US death toll rockets in Iraq

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FIVE more American troops were killed and three were captured near Mahmoudiya, 20 miles south of Baghdad, in a pre-dawn attack on Saturday. The blast that destroyed two Humvees was heard for miles and a drone filmed the burning wrecks.

The fatalities on Saturday take the total number of US troops killed in Iraq since the beginning of the imperialist invasion in March 2003 to more than 3,380.

The attack by the Iraqi resistance was a highly-organised guerrilla operation, not merely the result of roadside bombs, and it resulted in the capture of three US troops. This was confirmed by local people, who described hearing both an explosion and a gun battle.

A huge American military operation followed the attack. Checkpoints were set up and helicopters and warplanes flew over the area continuously. Major General William Caldwell of the US military said: ‘We will never stop looking for our soldiers until their status is definitely determined.’

In June 2006, when two US soldiers were captured in the same area, 8,000 troops were deployed to destroy the resistance, but they failed and two corpses were found days later.

Saturday’s attack on the US patrol came only two days after a visit by Vice-President Dick Cheney, who held talks with Iraqi puppet Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and US military chiefs in Iraq. He desperately attempted to boost the flagging morale of US forces by addressing 2,000 soldiers at Camp Speicher.

Three months into the security ‘surge’ in Baghdad, which has seen 30,000 extra US troops sent there – taking the total to more than 150,000 – the Pentagon has indicated that this has been a failure. It has informed 35,000 US military personnel they may be required to go to Iraq in the autumn.

The attack on US forces near Mahmoudiya came at the end of a week that witnessed one defeat after another for President George Bush in Iraq and on Capitol Hill.

On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed a Bill for funding the military in Iraq, that will merely provide $43bn (£21.3bn), covering costs up to July, because the Democratic Party majority wants US troop withdrawal to begin in October and be completed by March 31, 2008.

Bush vetoed this proposition, but is now confronted with either agreeing to funding by instalments, linked to ‘benchmarks’ demonstrating political, economic and security achievements for his policy, or he will fail to get the backing of Congress for emergency war funds.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, said that Bush would not get a ‘blank cheque’ for war in Iraq. She said: ‘It has his benchmarks, it asks for a progress report. What could be fairer than that?’

Bush’s response has been to threaten to veto this Bill too. He said: ‘I’ll veto the Bill if it is this haphazard, piecemeal funding, and I made that clear.’

However, this appears to be bluster because even Republicans are wary of Bush’s policy of putting more and more troops in Iraq to be killed.

At the beginning of the week, 11 Republican Congressmen went to the White House and warned him that he cannot rely on unqualified support for his policy after September – the Democrats want troop withdrawals to begin in October.

In 2003, the US imperialist Bush regime began an offensive war on two fronts, against the people of Iraq and the working class in the US.

Today, the Bush administration is being defeated on both fronts, by the Iraqi resistance and the movement of the vast majority of people in the US against attacks on their living standards (jobs, pay, healthcare, education and welfare) and the Iraq war.

This is the time for the Iraqi resistance to form a provisional government of national liberation that will coordinate the armed struggle to end the imperialist occupation, restore Iraq’s sovereignty and convene a Constituent Assembly.

It, in turn, should discuss the formation of a workers’ and farmers’ government to provide security, guarantee the rights of all Iraqis, renationalise the oil industry and nationalise the banks and major industries, build homes and restore basic services, and provide universal free healthcare and education.