Friends, Here's the BBC headline of the same story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4814094.stm "US launches major Iraq offensive" The US military says it has launched its biggest airborne operation in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, targeting insurgents near the city of Samarra. The CNN version below, describing the latest US war crimes in Iraq, is an interesting example of matrix journalism. While we see many details, the elephant in the kitchen is ignored: Why is it that all the kings horses and all the kings men cannot deal with three villages without the help of this "biggest airborne operation"? What pretends to be a story of progress, as regards the fighting ability of 'Iraqi troops', tells us instead of a failed occupation. rkm -------------------------------------------------------- http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/03/16/iraq.main/index.html CNN.com U.S., Iraqis launch raid on insurgent hotbed BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- About 1,500 Iraqi and American forces stormed into a restive region north of the capital Thursday, searching for insurgents and terrorists, the U.S. military said. More than 50 aircraft and 200 tactical ground vehicles are involved in Operation Swarmer, a mission to find insurgents in rural areas of Salaheddin province northeast of Samarra. Commandos raided several structures in the area, a news release said. (Watch as choppers ferry troops to the insurgent area -- 2:28) "We are conducting a real thorough search of the area, ensuring that we are very precise in determining who we detain," said Maj. Tom Bryant, a public affairs officer in Tikrit for the 101st Airborne Division. Bryant said there were no initial reports of injuries among the U.S.-led coalition and Iraqis. He said there were "a few more" Iraqi troops than coalition soldiers. Many of them were ferried in by UH-60 Blackhawk and CH-47 Chinook helicopters, he said. The offensive is focusing on three villages in a largely Sunni area where fighters are believed to be based, Iraqi security sources said. The insurgents are suspected in lootings and killings, including the deaths of three Al-Arabiya journalists in Samarra. The reporters were killed while covering the aftermath of the February 22 bombing of a revered Shiite shrine in Samarra that escalated sectarian tensions and pushed Iraq to the brink of civil war. Samarra, about 75 miles (121 kilometers) north of Baghdad, is predominantly Sunni but has mixed Sunni-Shiite areas. Iraq Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said the operation "has been anticipated for some time." (Watch Iraq's foreign minister describe the area as a hotbed of insurgents -- 3:49) "It is very close to Baghdad ... and really it has been the transit for many of these terrorist insurgents to send car bombs or to attack convoys in that part of the country," Zebari said. "The insurgents and the terrorists have been assembling themselves there trying to create another Falluja," he said, referring to an insurgent command center in that western Iraqi city that was scene of a bloody offensive in November 2004. The operation is expected to last several days as the military searches for insurgents and weapons stockpiles. Zebari said the Samarra push shows the "rising capabilities" of Iraqi forces. "This is a good exercise and indicates that this strategy is working to build Iraqi troops to be sufficient," he said. Bryant said Iraqi and U.S. commanders planned the mission, acting on intelligence gained by Iraqi forces. Bodies found in Baghdad The death toll from apparent reprisal killings rose in Baghdad as Iraqi emergency police said they had found 31 bodies across the capital -- 25 on Wednesday and another six Thursday. Since a string of car bombings in a poor Shiite neighborhood killed at least 46 people Sunday, police have reported finding the results of grisly execution-style slayings daily. The latest discoveries came during a vehicle curfew in the capital. More than 160 bodies have been recovered since Sunday. Many were shot to death, and some showed signs of torture. In northern Iraq, one person was killed and three injured in demonstrations marking the 18th anniversary of the gassing to death of thousands of Kurds in Halabja, police and hospital officials said. Diyala province, north of Baghdad, continued to be a hotbed of violence. In Khalis, a roadside bomb killed three girls and wounded five boys Thursday as students were leaving school, an official with Diyala's Joint Coordination Center said. A roadside bomb in Muqtadya exploded near an Iraqi police patrol, wounding seven officers and one civilian, the official said. In the provincial capital of Baquba, a gunmen killed one civilian and wounded another. Parliament meets briefly Iraq's newly elected parliament met for the first time Thursday and adjourned after 30 minutes. The lawmakers were sworn in amid tight security, but they did little else. (Full story) The meeting begins the 60-day countdown during which time a president, two vice presidents and a prime minister will be selected. The process likely will be difficult. The nominee for prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, is controversial with many Sunni, Kurdish and secular Shiite lawmakers and their constituents. Al-Jaafari has been the transitional prime minister. 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