Thousands of Iraqis rally for Hezbollah
Friday, August 4, 2006; Posted: 10:07 a.m. EDT (14:07 GMT)
BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Tens of thousands of people marched through the streets of Baghdad on Friday, enthusiastically voicing support for Lebanon's Hezbollah militia.
Angry protesters chanted slogans, burned Israeli flags and waved Lebanese and Hezbollah flags in the Iraqi capital's densely populated Shiite enclave of Sadr City. They also held up placards with the portrait of Hassan Nasrallah, head of Hezbollah.
The Shiite militant group Hezbollah has been fighting Israel in a fierce cross-border war that so far has claimed the lives of 644 Lebanese and 68 Israelis. (Latest developments)
Sunni-Shiite sectarian strife has plagued Iraq in recent months, but many Iraqis have been incensed over the recent fighting in Lebanon. Of Iraq's 26 million people, 60 percent are believed to be Shiite Muslims.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shiite, has criticized Israel over its assault on targets in Lebanon. Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr -- who has a strong following in the Shiite neighborhood -- also has denounced Israel.
Hezbollah's capture of two Israeli soldiers sparked the fighting in a cross-border raid July 12.
Baghdad's march came on the heels of Thursday's Senate testimony from the commander of U.S. forces in the Mideast warning that if Iraqi violence is not brought under control, particularly in the capital, the country could descend into civil war. (Full story)
Car bombings, clashes in Mosul
Insurgents and police slugged it out Friday across the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, leaving three police officers and an unknown number of insurgents dead.
The clashes led officials to enforce a citywide curfew until dawn on Saturday.
The violence erupted as 3,500 U.S. troops were being moved from the Mosul area to Baghdad to help bolster security in the capital.
Fighting raged in at least eight neighborhoods in Mosul, the largest city in Iraq's northern tier about 250 miles (400 kilometers) north of Baghdad.
At least 80 insurgents drove vehicles into several neighborhoods and attacked police patrols and checkpoints, police said.
Two car bombs also went off. In one of the attacks, Col. Jassim Mohammed Bilal, a police battalion commander, and two other police officers were slain when attackers targeted his convoy in the eastern Noor neighborhood, said Nineveh province Gov. Duraid Kashmoula.
Police and civilians were wounded in the blast. The bodies of an unknown number of insurgents were strewn on the ground across the city.
South of Mosul, a suicide bomber in a pickup struck a police patrol near a sports field Thursday night, killing 10 people, according to a Mosul police official.
Three police officers were among the dead, and 12 others, including seven police, were wounded in the attack in Hadhar, about 55 miles (88 kilometers) south of Mosul.
U.S.-led coalition forces staged operations in Baquba and near Baghdad in the last 24 hours, leading to the killings and arrests of insurgents, the U.S. military said. Those targeted in the Baquba raid had ties to a senior leader in al Qaeda in Iraq, the military said. Coalition forces killed at least three insurgents in an airstrike and raids southeast of Baghdad. Nineteen people also were detained in raids Thursday near Ramadi and Falluja in the volatile Anbar province west of the capital.
Six Marines have been charged with assaulting an Iraqi civilian in Hamdaniya in April, the U.S. military said Thursday. The case is separate from one involving allegations against Marines in the killing of an Iraqi man in the same town, also in April. (Full story)
CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.