What we know now, is that, there were no foreign fighters (or Al Qaida, as was originally stated) nor were there any Sunni militants. It was a group of Shiites who were rivals of the leading Shiite-led government (the SCIRI and Daâ€™wa parties which represent Muqtada al Sadr and Abdel Aziz al-Hakim)
So what really happened?
Apparently, a fight broke out at a checkpoint between government forces (Shiite) and the rival group. (who were also Shiites) Shots were fired, the violence escalated, and government soldiers were quickly overpowered. So, they called for backup from the US military saying that they were under attack by al Qaida and Sunni insurgents. It was all rubbish, but the military believed it, sent in F-18s and helicopter gunships and buried the group under a carpet of bombs. (It is expected that women and children were killed in the bombing)
In fact, many in the media celebrated the slaughter of the Iraqi pilgrims as though they were revisiting the â€œBattle of the Bulgeâ€. Hereâ€™s a typical account from the AP:
â€œUS and British jets bombed and strafed the militants, the US Air Force said Monday. US F-16s and A-10 jets dropped 500-pound bombs on insurgent positions, the Air Force saidâ€.
Hoorah! More innocent people butchered!
Say what you will about the corporate media; they still havnâ€™t lost their appetite for carnage.
Neither has the decider-in-chief who, when asked about the attack, answered, â€œMy first reaction on this report from the battlefield is that the Iraqis are beginning to show me something.â€
What the Iraqis â€œshowedâ€ Bush was how easy it is to dupe the US military into carrying out their genocidal reprisals against rival groups. Just as the Mahdi Army and other Shiite militias are â€œlaying lowâ€ while the US military ethnically cleanses Sunni neighborhoods throughout Baghdad, so too, the Shiite-led Iraqi government is now using American firepower to eliminate their potential Shiite enemies.
Apparently, Bush is as happy with this new arrangement as the Shiite warlords who now run the country.
A spokesman from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense said that â€œ200 terrorists were killed and 60 woundedâ€ lowering the original estimates.
â€œTerrorist familiesâ€ (including children) or just plain old terrorists?
Whatever the precise details may be, the official version is utter nonsense. Thatâ€™s why the survivors of the attack are being prevented from speaking to the press. Just like the bombed-out wedding party in Anbar Province, or the Jessica Lynch fiasco; the official version is â€œalways rightâ€ as long as there is no competing narrative.
The bottom line is that the US military is now being used as an â€œenforcerâ€ in tribal and clan-based disputes. This will make it even more difficult for Washington to prove that its honest broker who can reconcile the differences between the between the warring factions. With every reckless act of violence, the USbecomes further mired in an â€œunwinnableâ€ war in a hostile country. Only the American media thinks that that's something to cheer about.