Saturday, February 24, 2007

Turn Over Control?

Suicide bomber kills 39 at Iraqi mosque
By BRIAN MURPHY, Associated Press Writer

"A suicide truck bomber sent a deadly storm of metal, stone and jagged plaster through worshippers leaving a Sunni mosque Saturday, killing at least 39 in a possible sign of escalating internal Sunni battles between insurgents and those who oppose them. The motive for the attack was not immediately clear. But it carried the hallmarks of an increasingly bloody struggle for control of Anbar province — a hotbed of anti-U.S. guerrillas since the uprising in Fallujah in 2004 that galvanized the insurgency.

U.S. military envoys and pro-government leaders have worked hard to sway clan chiefs and other influential Anbar figures to turn against the militants, who include foreign jihadists fighting under the banner of al-Qaida in Iraq. The extremists have fought back with targeted killings and bombings against fellow Sunnis. The blast in Habbaniyah — in the heart of insurgent territory about 50 miles west of Baghdad — was among the deadliest against civilians in Anbar. The imam of the mosque had spoken out against extremists — most recently in this Friday's sermon, residents said. Many people in the neighborhood work for the Iraqi military and police forces, who frequently come under militant attack. The truck, filled with building materials such as stone and plaster board, was blown apart as worshippers left following mid-afternoon prayers.

At least 14 people were killed in bombings around Baghdad — most targeting Shiite areas — even as U.S.-Iraqi forces press ahead with neighborhood-by-neighborhood sweeps seeking to reclaim control of the city. After nightfall, nearly 20 strong blasts reverberated through Baghdad in a reported exchange of fire between U.S. troops and insurgents south of the capital.

But the crackdown also has sent Sunni insurgents fleeing the city to the nearby province of Diyala, which has emerged as a new and busy front for U.S. troops. It's become so volatile that the Pentagon may delay plans to turn over control of Diyala to the Iraqi military by the end of the year, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon told The Associated Press."

Will someone please explain to me how the Pentagon can "turn over control" of some place over which they so obviously do not HAVE control?!