A short post here includes:
…the insurgency is quickly approaching a tipping point. If things continue as they are right now, our military won’t need a surge to chase the terrorists out of Anbar- the citizens will do it for us, which is as it should be. It’s beginning to show already: more local tips, more police recruits (far more than anticipated), and sadly- in bigger and more desperate Al-Qaeda attacks.
A letter from a Marine involved in the recent chlorine attack at the Fallujah Government Center posted here because he “thought folks in the USA should know:”
As for the IAs, they proved themselves. The jundi did a great job and pretty much stopped the initial attack as the insurgents were trying to shoot/ram their way inside. The IA and IP [Iraqi Police] figured it out and opened up on them, causing them to set off at the gates or just outside the buildings, vice inside where it would have been worse. Still too close than most would like, but it will do. After all “shook it off,” we got most of us out of the rubble and the gas, did a head-count, realized there were still some back in. All rubble, smoke and chlorine gas, hard to see what was what, and of course you can’t breathe. So of course, we ran back in it. Got to find those guys. It was not pretty but, we got them all out…
And a few more comments about chlorine attacks here.
Apparently the crude method of dispersing the gas in a via blowing up canisters renders the poison less widespread and lethal. From an LA Times story about a February attack:
- Chemists said that exploding high-pressure canisters are at best a crude way to disperse the green gas. Some would burn off, and the rest of the gas, which is heavier than air, would be unlikely to spread much beyond the blast zone.
- Stephen Bradforth, a chemistry professor at USC, suggested that the most serious damage could be psychological.
- An explosion “would launch a cloud of gas that is colored and highly corrosive and would lead to panic and more injuries,” he said. “It’s the chemical equivalent of a nail bomb.”
So we continue to hear that chlorine attacks should be considered primarily a panic problem. That’s not to say it can’t kill people—even a blind pig finds an acorn now and then. But the bomb that lets it loose is still the main concern.
Regardless of how ineffective they are, chlorine attacks are still a bad thing (the blind pig again). But the desperation demonstrated by these attacks is actually a promising sign. The terrorists carrying out these attacks are losing ground and they know it. I’m not sure why they seem too stupid to figure out that their tactic will do nothing more than strengthen a growing Iraqi public resolve against them. That part bothers me and I wonder if I’m missing something.
[UPDATE: Meanwhile in Baghdad, innocent Iraqi describes harrowing experience of having his house searched by US troops!]