Today is one of those days where events are happening so fast that the news you see in the morning paper is outdated before you even get in to work.
The front page headline in the Express-News today (picked up from the WaPo) says “Deadly clashes easing in Iraq.” A subhead then quotes a U.S. envoy exclaiming that the ‘crisis is over.’ I noted this as I picked the paper up off the driveway and threw it into my truck. But then as I was driving to work I turn on NPR and hear that there have been a string of car bombs and suicide bombs in the last few hours claiming more than 30 lives and injuring more than a hundred others.
Here’s the story from New York Times:
A string of three bombs went off in quick succession here today, killing at least 30 and wounding more than 130, Iraqi officials said, bringing a sudden end to the relative calm that had followed a curfew imposed after last week's outbreak of sectarian violence.
In signs that the new violence represented a resumption of the sectarian strife, two of the blasts took place in Shiite areas in the southeastern part of the city, while the roof of a Sunni mosque in Baghdad was also blown off. In the Sunni stronghold of Tikrit, the mosque built over the grave of Saddam Hussein's father was attacked, according to an official in the Iraqi interior ministry.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon has downgraded the only Iraqi Army battallion that had been considered able to carry out attacks on its own:
The only Iraqi battalion capable of fighting without U.S. support has been downgraded to a level requiring them to fight with American troops backing them up, the Pentagon said Friday.
The battalion, made up of 700 to 800 Iraqi Army soldiers, has repeatedly been offered by the U.S. as an example of the growing independence of the Iraqi military.
The competence of the Iraqi military has been cited as a key factor in when U.S. troops will be able to return home.