Iraq: US airstrikes, forced evacuations on Syrian border

For a second day, US war-planes struck a supposed al-Qaeda stronghold in the city of Qaim on the Syrian border. A US military statement said the attack is thought to have killed Abu Ali, a senior al-Qaeda agent in charge of helping foreign fighters enter the country from Syria. The target was just a few miles from the town of Husaybah, where residents said masked insurgent gunmen had taken control, setting up roadblocks and questioning people on the streets. They said snipers were atop buildings and gunmen roamed the streets. Marine warplanes also bombed two small Euphrates bridges being used by insurgents to move weapons and fighters near Karabilah. (AP, Sept. 7) A sign newly posted at the entrance of Qaim by insurgents declared: “Welcome to the Islamic Kingdom of Qaim.” A statement posted in mosques described Qaim as an “Islamic kingdom liberated from the occupation.” (LAT, Sept. 5) Last week, local hospital workers said 56 had been killed in US airstrikes, including many women and children. (Granma, Aug. 30) Some 200 have been arrested by US-Iraqi forces in sweeps at the nearby town of Tal Affar. (AP, Sept. 9) US forces have ordered all civilians to leave the Tal Affar, as new airstrikes on the town are underway. (BBC News, Sept. 9)

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