Wednesday, February 22, 2006

February 22, 2005 Is The Official Start to The Iraqi Civil War

From CNN:

Shiite mosque bombing sparks attacks on Sunnis
27 Sunni sites targeted, 3 imams killed

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Gunmen on Wednesday targeted 27 Baghdad mosques and killed three Sunni imams in the wake of a bomb attack at one of the holiest of Shiite sites.

The wave of attacks followed a bombing at the Al-Askariya "Golden Mosque" in Samarra. The strikes, involving small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and mortar rounds, all happened between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., police told CNN.

Three of the mosques were burned down, and in addition to the imams, three mosque guards were also killed. One imam was kidnapped.

Kurdish, Shiite and Sunni leaders who have been working to form a national unity government urged citizens to remain calm and united, amid fears that sectarian violence would escalate into civil war.

Meanwhile, the top half of the golden dome that once towered above the Al-Askariya "Golden Mosque" lay collapsed in the blast. Minarets flanking the cupola remained standing, amid mounds of debris. (Watch how the blast is intensifying tension -- 1:51)

The Samarra attack happened at 7 a.m., when gunmen dressed as Iraqi police commandos bombed the site, which has deep significance in early Islam. Salaheddin province is home to a large Sunni Arab population.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Foreign fighters were likely responsible, and the attack bore the hallmarks of al Qaeda in Iraq, Iraqi National Security Adviser Mowaffaq al-Rubaie said.

"They are really testing the patience of the Iraqi people," he said, calling on Muslims around the world to condemn "this act of terrorism."

Ten people -- all dressed as Iraqi police commandos -- have been arrested, al-Rubaie said.

Both Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a Shiite, and President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, said the attack was an effort to incite sectarian violence.

In a taped address on Iraqiya TV, al-Jaafari called on all Iraqi political parties to condemn the mosque attack and asked Sunni and Shiite Iraqis to demonstrate in Samarra, about 70 miles (113 kilometers) north of Baghdad.

Al-Jaafari also declared a three-day period of mourning and ordered the Ministries of Defense and of Housing and Reconstruction to assess damage and begin quickly rebuilding the shrine.

Talabani condemned the "horrendous crime," saying, "The perpetrators' aim is to start a civil war between Iraqis."

Three straight days of sectarian violence culminating in a terrorist attack upon one of Shiite Islam's holiest sites.

Shiite death squads subsidized by the Iraqi government are already targeting suspected Sunni insurgents, sympathizers and/or innocent Sunnis and torturing and killing them, as noted yesterday by the LA Times.

Now Shiites are really going to target Sunnis in increasingly violent sectarian discord and whatever chances the Iraqis had to put together a non-sectarian government are finished.

Welcome to the Iraqi Civil War - February 22, 2005.

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