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Al Qaeda, insurgents-entering realm of chemical warfare

Posted by Stephen on March 17, 2007

War in Iraq has always included concerns over chemical warfare. Until recently there have been few signs that chemicals have been used by enemies of peace in the Iraqi theatre.

That has now changed.

Fox News is reporting that three trucks filled with chlorine were detonated in the Sunni stronghold of the Anbar province, killing two Iraqi police and sending more than 350 civilians and six U.S. soldiers to seek medical assistance for chemical poisoning.

The attacks highlight an increase in the use of chemicals, specifically chlorine, since January. Last month there were back to back bombings that released poisonous chlorine gas, prompting the U.S. military to warn that insurgents were adopting new techniques to spread terror and panic in the streets of Iraq.

The latest attacks, according to Fox, started just after 4 p.m. Friday when a driver detonated the explosives in a pickup truck northeast of Ramadi, wounding one U.S. service member and one Iraqi civilian.

That was followed by a similar explosion involving a dump truck south of Fallujah in Amiriyah that killed two policemen and left as many as 100 local citizens showing signs of chlorine exposure, with symptoms ranging from minor skin and lung irritations to vomiting. At 7:13 p.m., also south of Fallujah in the Albu Issa tribal region, a suicide bomber detonated a dump truck containing a 200 gallon chlorine tank rigged with explosives. When U.S. forces responded they found some 250 civilians, including children, suffering from chlorine exposure.

The Fox News report also stated that the military said last month that they found a car bomb factory near Fallujah with about 65 propane tanks and ordinary chemicals it believed the insurgents were going to try to mix with explosives. Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, the chief U.S. military spokesman, called it a “crude attempt to raise the terror level.”

It is a classic battle of good versus evil. The good of U.S. military envoy’s and pro government supporters pushing for militias to lay down arms and turn against those that would rather see bloodshed than progress. These forces of good seeking long term solutions for a stable and peaceful Iraq face an evil insurgency consisting of Al Qaeda and foreign insurgents from Iran and Syria as well as other outside players. Al Qaida extremists, who are desperate to stay in power, use terror tactics, and the ruthless slaughter of innocent people to maintain control of a country fighting for its sovereignty.

As part of their efforts to focus on the positive relationships between American involvement in Iraq and the innocent citizens there, U.S. troops opened an impromptu medical clinic in a school in Sadr City. Such efforts are part of a growing number of civil projects American commanders hope will win goodwill from ordinary Iraqis.

According to Fox News adults and children stood in lines behind concertina wire waiting to be treated for cuts and infections. A young boy on crutches hobbled toward U.S. soldiers. One man who had come to be treated for an infected gash to his forehead said the number of chronic illnesses had grown considerably since the war began and good medical treatment became harder to find.

“If we go to an Iraqi hospital, we don’t get the medicines we need,” he said. “So we come here so maybe we can get some help.”

A long term solution still exists within the economic and service needs of the Iraqi people. Whether it’s building schools and hospitals or creating works programs to address roads and vital utilities like water and electric, putting Iraqis to work addressing Iraqi needs is an essential part of replacing guns with hammers and shovels needed for the rebuilding process.

Such an approach is working in Ethiopia and northern Africa and it can work in Iraq. Winning hearts and minds, as it was described during Vietnam, allows American forces to provide America’s best assets, our hearts and minds. America has the engineers, scientists, teachers, and leaders necessary to show a new Iraq the way to true prosperity through productivity, ownership, education, and economic success.

The U.S. needs international support in an effort to provide Iraq a real chance at progress and rebirth. The United Nations has continuously spoken out against the use of chemical weapons in warfare. Where is their strong condemnation of Al Qaeda in Iraq’s attempts to terrorize innocent people with chemical weapons? Why is the international community so quick to attack U.S. foreign policy and yet so slow to involve themselves in the removal of a sadistic enemy hell bent on the horrific slaughter of innocent people by way of chemical weapons? Are European nations so fearful of Al Qaeda that they have convinced themselves that chemical warfare and terrorism is someone else’s problem?

Success in Iraq will depend on many things. A new American policy that is focusing on building security, while addressing core needs of the Iraqi people is an important step. If Iraq is to build on such positive steps they will need international support from those that recognize that the true enemy of peace throughout the world exists within those that place no value on human life and find enjoyment in discovering the most ruthless ways of exterminating anyone who does not believe in the same fanatical Islamic beliefs that they covet.

Stephen Winslow is the executive editor of Conservative Viewpoints.

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