In the deadliest attack on U.S. troops since the start of the invasion, Iraqi resistance fighters downed a helicopter Sunday killing 16 U.S soldiers and injuring 20. The soldiers were being taken out of Iraq on a short-term leave.
The shoulder-fired missile attack occurred near Falluja, west of Baghdad. It came a day after the sixth-month anniversary of President Bush’s initial May 1st announcement that major combat operations had ended in Iraq. A total of 379 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq, two-thirds of the deaths have occurred after May 1.
Roadside bombs killed three other Americans on Sunday: two civilians working as private contractors were killed in Fallujah and a soldier was killed in Baghdad.
27 U.S. soldiers have died in the past week, the highest total since the fall of Baghdad.
The Washington Post reported that Iraqis celebrated the downing of the helicopter. One truck driver told the Post, “Why are the Americans here? They’re just showing off their muscles. Force creates force.”
Another Iraqi added, “an honest man who does not like to be occupied by foreigners.”
The attack came on the same day a new ABC News-Washington Post poll was released that showed for the first time a majority of Americans disapprove of how President Bush is handling Iraq.
The New York Times is reporting the U.S. is now considering reconstituting entire units of the former Iraqi Army in order to improve the country’s security situation.
Almost six months ago, the U.S. dismantled the 500,000 strong Iraqi Army. The move has been widely viewed as a strategic mistake.
And Senator Trent Lott has offered his own solution to the Iraq crisis.
In an interview last week with the Washington-based newspaper The Hill, Lott said, “If we have to, we just mow the whole place down, see what happens. Youíre dealing with insane suicide bombers who are killing our people, and we need to be very aggressive in taking them out.”
In New Hampshire, the Rev. Gene Robinson was consecrated Sunday as the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church. 4,000 celebrated his consecration but the move threatens to split the international Anglican church. Leaders of the church in Africa have lead the condemnation of Robinson’s appointment.
In Denmark today, indiginous Inuit hunters from Greenland are asking Denmark’s Supreme Court to shut down the U.S. military Thule air base in Greenland. The BBC reports the base is one of the Pentagon’s most secretive and strategically important bases. The U.S. uses the base for electronic surveillance and plans to use it for the Star Wars National Missile Defense System. The lawsuit charges the Inuit were illegally exiled by the Danish government from their ancestral homeland in 1953 to make way for the U.S. base. Now they are seeking the right to return.
In what the Guardian of London described as the largest left-wing demonstration since Gen. Ariel Sharon came to power, more than 100,000 Israelis gathered this weekend to denounce the occupation and call for peace. The gathering marked the eighth anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Rabin was killed by Yigal Amir, an extremist Israeli who opposed the surrendering of any part of the West Bank to the Palestinians.
At the rally former Prime Minister Shimon Peres called for the immediate pullout of Israeli settlers from the Gaza strip.
In other news from Israel, workers have engaged in one of the country’s largest strikes to protest the proposed overhaul of Israel’s welfare system. Striking workers shut down government offices, banks, the international airport and trains.
A draft Afghan constitution was unveiled today calling for the country to be renamed the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. The charter commission said in a statement, “The draft is based on Islamic principles and recognises that no law can be contrary to the sacred religion of Islam.”
In other news from Afghanistan, a U.S. soldier was killed over the weekend becoming the third American killed there in a week.
And a new United Nations report has found that poppy is now being cultivated in 28 of Afghanistan’s 32 provinces.
Democratic Presidential candidate Howard Dean is coming under criticism from opponents over his comment that he was seeking votes from “guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks.” Rep. Dick Gephard accused Dean of reaching out to people who “disagree with us on bedrock Democratic values like civil rights.” The Rev. Al Sharptons said “If I said I wanted to be the candidate for people that ride around with helmets and swastikas, I would be asked to leave.”
Newsweek is reporting that CBS is considering selling the rights of its controversial miniseries The Reagans. This comes after the Republican National Committee accused the network of creating a partially fictional account of the lives of Ronald and Nancy Reagan.
The chairman of the Republican National Committee requested that CBS allow a group of historians to review an upcoming miniseries on Ronald and Nancy Reagan or to place a disclaimer on the screen that describes the film as a fictional account.