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A massacre where Bush declared "success"

April 13, 2007 | Page 4

JUST HOW much worse the situation in Iraq has become was evident recently when a vicious massacre took place in the city of Tal Afar.

Described by the New York Times as "one of the bloodiest chapters in Iraq's sectarian strife," this northwestern city of about 200,000 witnessed a gruesome explosion of truck bombs, which killed 83 people and wounded 185--followed by a retaliatory killing spree by the local police force, who dragged 70 people into the street and shot them, execution style.

All of this, by itself, is horrifying. But what makes this particular event even more appalling is that in a long speech given three years ago in 2004, President Bush nauseatingly repeated over and over again that Tal Afar was a model example of a successful result of U.S. military operations in Iraq.

Bush described in giddy detail how "Operation Restoring Rights" had created a city where there existed a "professional police force that all sides could have confidence in"; where the "terrorists... have been driven out or put on the run"; and where "if you're a resident of Tal Afar today, this is what you're going to see:...your children going to school and playing safely in the opening...a city that is coming back to life."

Now, three years later, residents of Tal Afar see the same police force pulling people outside of their homes and killing them. They see drivers luring people to trucks pretending to give out free flour, and then detonating bombs.

And instead of seeing children playing safely in the street, Tal Afar resident Salih Qaddaw described what he saw: "I haven't heard or seen such a massacre in my life. Bodies accumulated in the streets."

Tal Afar is yet another vivid example of why the only real solution to ending the crisis in Iraq is to get the U.S. military out--now.
Ellie Fingerman, Seattle

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