At least 80 are reported dead and twice as many wounded in suicide car bomb explosion near a gathering of laborers in Kadhimiya, a Shiite area of north-central Baghdad. About three hours later, another suicide car bomb targeted shoppers in the busy Shiite neighborhood of Shula in northwestern Baghdad, killing four and wounding 22 others. In Taji, about 10 miles north of Baghdad, men wearing Iraqi army uniforms stormed homes and pulled 17 Shiite men from their homes, shooting them execution style, police said.
Attacks were also staged on at least three military convoys. A suicide car bomb targeted an Iraqi army convoy in the al-Adil intersection in western Baghdad, killing three Iraqi soldiers. About 40 minutes earlier, another suicide car bomber hit a US military convoy in eastern Baghdad, wounding two soldiers and damaging their Humvee. A roadside bomb also exploded near a US convoy in the capital. There were no reports of casualties.
The violence comes a day after Iraqi President Jalal Talabani met with President Bush met in Washington.
Bush renewed his pledge to assist Baghdad in building a democracy and to help the fledgling government defeat insurgents. “America will stand with the Iraqi people as they move forward with the democratic process,” Bush said at a joint White House news conference. “American troops will stay on the offensive, alongside Iraqi security forces, to hunt down our common enemies.”
Talabani said he hopes that Iraqi forces will be ready to take full responsibility for the nation’s security by the end of 2006. “We will set no timetable for withdrawal,” Talabani said. “A timetable will help the terrorists.”
The leaders both criticized Syria, accusing the country of allowing insurgents to enter Iraq across its border. “The Syrian government can do a lot more to prevent the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq,” Bush said. “These people are coming from Syria into Iraq and killing a lot of innocent people. They’re killing — they’re trying to kill our folks as well.” In an implicit threat, Bush added: “The Syrian leader must understand we take his lack of action seriously,” Bush said.
On Monday, Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, said that Syria is “the No. 1 offender” in impeding US efforts in Iraq. “There is blatant interference by Syria in Iraqi affairs, by allowing these terrorists to come across,” Khalilzad said. “And as I said before, our patience is running out. We have given it every opportunity. The time is running out for more of the same.” Asked whether a military option against Syria was under consideration, Khalilzad said, “Everything is on the table.”
Suspects are still being detained by US-Iraqi forces in Tal Afar, on the Syrian border. “Operation Restore Rights” was launched in Tal Afar two weeks ago to try to drive out insurgents around the northern city. An estimated 6,600 families have been forced to flee the area in recent months, a senior official with Iraq’s Ministry of Displacement and Migration reported.
The Islamic Army in Iraq has posted a statement on the web saying it wanted to avenge the deaths of Sunnis in Iraq, including those killed in Tal Afar.
In other developments:
*Iraqi police Sept. 13 found six bodies near a garbage dump in Taji north of Baghdad. The victims were shot to death and blindfolded with their hands bound, a Baghdad emergency police official said.
*A roadside bomb struck a three-vehicle convoy Sept. 13, wounding four security contractors near the southern city of Basra, Iraqi and U.S. officials said. The contractors — whose nationalities are not known — were not affiliated with the U.S. military mission or with coalition forces, U.S. officials said.
*Two Kurdish construction workers were shot to death Sept. 13 in a drive-by shooting in southern Baghdad, Iraqi police said. A third worker was wounded in the attack. Earlier, police found the bodies of two men in southeastern Baghdad. Authorities said there were signs the men had been tortured. (CNN, Sept. 14)
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