Saturday, September 24, 2005

A successful assault

On Thursday the general in charge of the US-Iraqi assault on Talafar declared that the operation has been successfully completed. "We announce the end of military operations in Talafar" said the Iraqi general. The phrase has a hint of familiarity about it, can't quite think why.

So what actually happened in Talafar? The coalition claim that "157 rebels had been killed and 683 suspects captured" during the operation. There are no reports of civilian casualties but then the coalition doesn't really make much of an effort to count them so that's hardly surprising.

Just to put it in perspective it's worth noting that Talafar has a population of around 170,000. At least 20-25,000 people abandoned the city during the fighting. The IRCS was the only organisation who attempted to supply basic humanitarian necessities to these displaced people. During the fighting the military did not permit any supplies to be delivered to the city.

Now that the fighting is over people are starting to return.
Nearly 1,500 displaced Iraqi families have returned to the northern city of Talafar after Coalition forces ended an operation to rout insurgents hiding there, but the returnees said dozens of their homes had been totally destroyed... Surkassi Ahmed, a doctor at the local hospital, said there had been civilian casualties. "We have received cases of deaths of women, children and the elderly in our hospital,".
That's according to Reliefweb (adminstered by the UN OCHA). It's very difficult to find any mainstream news coverage of what has happened in Talafar though. I wondered if this might be because the city is still too dangerous for journalists to visit.

Islam Online has another suggestion for the lack of media coverage of the assault and it's aftermath.
The US-Iraqi troops imposed a complete media blackout on the Tal Afar operation, according to IOL correspondent. No reporters were allowed into the town during the military operations except for the official Al-Iraqiya channel. Military units were given strict orders not to let reporters into the city under the pretext of protecting their personal safety. The only photos available were those released by the US military press service. A source at Ninawa Journalists Syndicate said the US and Iraqi forces detained 17 journalists and seized their cameras when they attempted to provide the offensive.
And here was me thinking that if you've got nothing to hide you've got nothing to fear.

In truth, I can't say with any certainty that this allegation is true. Let's just say that I wouldn't be entirely surprised if it is. So was the raid on Talafar a successful operation? As things stand it's fair to say that the claim is quite literally undeniable.

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