Updated at 7:00 p.m. EST, Dec. 8, 2008
Eid al-Adha observances
at dawn, so there will be little news out of the country today. Instead, the focus
is on Utah, where five Blackwater Worldwide guards handed themselves over to U.S.
authorities. No Coalition deaths were reported. Meanwhile, the Marine Corps commandant,
believes that a large contingent of Marines deployed in Anbar province will transfer
to Afghanistan starting in the spring. The only report of Iraqi deaths came from
Anbar province where a mass grave was discovered.
Five Blackwater Worldwide
guards surrendered to U.S.
authorities today as part of an investigation into the shooting deaths of 17 civilians
in Iraq last year. The guards claim they were responding to an attack, while witnesses
say that the group was unprovoked. A sixth guard struck
a plea deal. Many Iraqis have grown to despise foreign security contractors as
they feel that the guards have no regard for Iraqi lives. The U.S.-Iraqi security
pact, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2009, ends
any legal immunity these guards currently have. That would mean that incidents
such as the Blackwater one would be tried in Iraqi not U.S. courts. Formal charges
included 14 counts of manslaughter
and 20 counts of attempted manslaughter. Also, a little used law leftover from
the 1980s drug war in the U.S., using a machine gun to commit a crime of violence,
will also be used against the men. That law alone carries a 30-year minimum sentence.
stationed in Anbar province are expected
to transfer to Afghanistan starting in the spring, said Gen. James Conway, the
Marine Corps commandant. They are already undergoing training for the move. Officials
believe they will better serve the country by moving from a peace-keeping mission
in Iraq to an actual combat mission in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, a nine-month-long
inquiry determined that
the Marine Corps failed to answer a request for vehicles better able to protect
troops from roadside bombs.
An ambitious Pentagon plan to jumpstart Iraqi
industries has failed
due to lack of interest from American retailers.
Iraqi and U.S. forces
uncovered a mass grave containing 20
bodies near Ramadi in Albyar.
In Baghdad, U.S. forces
captured four Kataib Hezbollah
suspects. Iraqi forces arrested
16 suspects and defused 10 bombs.
MNF forces are in the process of setting
up a joint security center in western Basra province. British forces
are stationed at the international airport in Basra.
Reports of booby-trapped
cars forced officials in Tal
Afar to impose a curfew.
Ukrainian troops were expected
to leave Iraq today, just two days after Japanese troops officially went home.
Compiled by Margaret Griffis