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Saddam's Superyacht Gets a New Use

Basrah Breeze will be used as a hotel of sorts, for sailors

(Newser) - Saddam Hussein's swanky superyacht , built for the Iraqi dictator in 1981 but never actually boarded by him, has a new use: It's a sailors' hotel, to be used by the sea pilots who guide shipping in and out of Iraq's port at Basra, many of whom live... More »

Insurgents Storm Iraqi Cop Compound

7 killed as suicide bombers battle anti-terrorism station

(Newser) - Iraqi insurgents stormed a police station in Ramadi yesterday, triggering a firefight that killed at least seven people. The attack followed several car bombings throughout the city. The compound houses an anti-terrorism unit and a prison, reports the BBC. Attackers moved in after two suicide bombers who had infiltrated the... More »

Another Iraq Suicide Blast Kills 53 Shiites in Basra

Victims were marking a holy day

(Newser) - Iraq's Sunni-Shiite tensions worsened yet again today when a suicide bomber killed at least 53 Shiite pilgrims marking a holy day, reports Reuters . The bomber, dressed as a police officer, struck at a checkpoint in Basra. No claims of responsibility yet, but it bears the hallmarks of Sunni-dominated al-Qaeda,... More »

Sadistic Brit Soldiers 'Made Iraqis Dance Like Jacko'

(Newser) - British troops called Iraqi detainees "apes," beat them so that their moans of pain sounded like an "orchestrated choir," and forced them to dance like Michael Jackson, a public inquiry into the death of one of the detainees heard yesterday. The inquiry panel was told... More »

Britain Ends Iraq Mission

(Newser) - Britain officially ended its combat operations in Iraq today, lowering the flags of its armored brigade and turning over control of its Basra base to US troops, the Guardian reports. “The role of British ground forces is finished,” a defense official confirmed. “Today, Iraq is a success... More »

Maliki's Allies Win Big in Provincial Vote

Maliki's party wins 38% of Baghdad vote, 37% in Basra

(Newser) - Allies of Iraq's prime minister finished first in races for ruling councils in Baghdad and eight other provinces, official results from last weekend's election show. Nouri al-Maliki's party won 38% of the vote in Baghdad, the election commission said. His party was followed by allies of anti-US cleric Muqtada al-Sadr... More »

Brown Announces July Withdrawal in Baghdad

Brown says troops home by July in surprise Baghdad visit

(Newser) - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a surprise visit to Baghdad today and announced that all but a handful of British troops will leave Iraq by July 2009. About 4,000 British service members remain in Iraq, mostly around Basra, though at the height of the war 100,000 were... More »

Britain to Withdraw Troops From Iraq by June

(Newser) - British troops will begin withdrawing their 4,000 troops from Iraq in March and will have all but a few hundred out by the end of June, the Guardian reports. They will be replaced at their base in Basra not by Iraqis but by Americans, who are worried about keeping... More »

Honor Killing Dad: 'Daughter Deserved Death'

Iraqi proudly murdered 17-year-old over her crush on British solider

(Newser) - The Iraqi father who suffocated and stabbed his 17-year-old daughter has only one regret over her honor killing: That he didn't murder her "the instant her mother delivered her." "Speaking with a foreign solider, she lost what is the most precious thing for any woman," Abdel-Qader... More »

Rice Visits Iraq, Looks to Bolster PM Maliki

Sec says assault on Basra pushed fractious country toward unity

(Newser) - Condoleezza Rice paid an unannounced visit to Baghdad today to highlight recent political gains brought about by PM Nouri al-Maliki's government. While the Maliki-ordered assault on Basra last month exposed some weaknesses in the Iraqi army, it also brought different groups in Iraq together, she said. "This is, I... More »

Al-Sadr Threatens 'Open War'

Radical cleric urges Baghdad to take 'road of peace'

(Newser) - Moqtada al-Sadr today threatened today to “declare a war” against Iraq unless it curbs attacks on his Mahdi Army, CNN reports. “I’m giving the last warning to the Iraqi government,” he said. “If the government does not stop the militias infiltrated with them, then we... More »

Iraqi Troops Seize Sadr Stronghold

Fighting in Baghad kills 12, wounds 130

(Newser) - In a major new clash, Iraqi troops backed by American and British firepower today captured a stronghold of fighters loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in Basra, said Iraqi officials. In a show of force, American planes and British artillery attacked a deserted area outside the Sadr-controlled section of Hayaniya... More »

Brits Will Pay $4M to Iraqi Boy Paralyzed by Bullet

Record compensation for teen shot by dropped rifle

(Newser) - Britain's Ministry of Defense has agreed to pay $4 million in compensation to an Iraqi boy accidentally shot by a British soldier, the Guardian reports. The boy, now 17, is paralyzed from severe spinal injuries inflicted when the soldier dropped his rifle at a Basra base in 2003. He is... More »

Iraqi Army Rescues British Journalist

Photographer had been held in Basra for two months

(Newser) - Iraqi troops rescued British photojournalist Richard Butler during a raid in Basra today, the Daily Telegraph reports. Storming a suburban house, soldiers found Butler with a hood over his head, but apparently unharmed. Butler had been working in Basra for CBS when he was abducted—by what were thought to... More »

Iraq Fires 1,300 Cops, Troops After Basra

Baghdad says they ducked fight with Shiite militias

(Newser) - Iraq sacked 1,300 troopers and policemen today for fighting poorly or not at all in last month’s Basra battles. “Some of them were sympathetic with these lawbreakers,” said one official. “Some refused to battle for political, national, sectarian or religious reasons.” The firings are... More »

Iran Is Now a Bigger Threat in Iraq Than al-Qaeda: US Officials

(Newser) - Recent battles in Basra prove that Iran is crippling Iraqi stability while al-Qaeda's influence there wanes, US officials say. David Petraeus pointed to Iran's influence in testimony this week, and now Shiite militias are said to have benefited from Iranian weapons, training, and guidance in Basra fighting—prompting a Washington... More »

Death of Sadr Aide Sparks Battles in Baghdad

Iraqi prez condemns attacks but meets al-Sadr MPs

(Newser) - The murder of a Moqtada al-Sadr aide triggered heavy fighting in Baghdad today after al-Sadr’s men attacked US and Iraqi forces, Reuters reports. The cleric blamed “the hand of the occupier” for the death of Riyadh al-Nuri, a close relative, and vowed not to forget “this precious... More »

Senate Grills Petraeus on Basra

McCain mixes up Sunnis, Shiites again

(Newser) - The campaign trail ran through a scheduled Senate Armed Service Committee appearance by David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker today, as John McCain and Hillary Clinton helped grill the general and ambassador on Iraq. McCain zeroed in on the the widespread Iraqi defections in Basra last week, saying, “It was... More »

Basra Showed Maliki Weakness, al-Sadr Strength

Nouri al-Maliki is now saying the assault wasn't political

(Newser) - The Iraqi-led assault on Basra last week exposed the weaknesses of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the strength of Moqtada al-Sadr, the Washington Post concludes in its post-mortem of the unsuccessful foray. In not engaging parliament, political allies, or the Americans in planning the incursion, Maliki sought to demonstrate decisiveness,... More »

Iraqi PM Flips, Calls Off Raids on Militias

Maliki extends olive branch to Sadr after Basra battle

(Newser) - Nouri al Maliki reversed course today, ordering a stop to raids against suspected Mahdi Army militants. The move is an apparent olive branch to Shiite rival Muqtada al Sadr, who had complained that raids against his militia fighters were continuing, even after he’d ordered them off the streets. Just... More »

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