New rules of engagement?
Aswat al-Iraq (Voices of Iraq):
Witnesses in Sadr City said on Thursday that American planes bombed areas of Sadr City, while joint US-Iraqi forces raided houses in some districts starting at midnight. One of the witnesses said they were supported by helicopters that circled over Sadr City until around 3 am Thursday, adding that the helicopters bombed areas in sectors 7 and 8 of the Al-Awla district of Sadr City. The sources couldn't say if there were any arrests, but said the bombing was accompanied by heavy weapons fire. The Americans have issued no statement explaining the results of this operation of last night. These types of joint raids normally occur during these hours, [the journalist explains], and normally the explanation is that they are looking for armed persons who target the coalition forces.Sadr City has a population of between 2 and 3 million persons. There was a bombing there Wednesday morning as well, that killed a family of four. Bush was clearly referring to Sadr City when he said in his speech on Wednesday that US forces now have a commitment from the Iraqi government that they will be able to "enter these neighborhoods...home to those fueling the sectarian violence." He didn't say anything specifically about bombing them, but I guess it is possible that bombing densely populated urban areas is part of the new "permissive rules of engagement." This is referred to in the next-to-last page of the point-form "strategy review" document that was released in connection with Bush's speech. It says in the column headed "Previous": "Restrictive Rules of Engagement hindered execution of Baghdad security plan"; and in the column headed "Way Ahead": "Iraqi leaders committed to permissive Rules of Engagement and non-sectarian, non-political command and control arrangements."