March 15 Events in Iraq
Baïji. A Turkish truck driver was ambushed and killed by an anti-tank rocket.
Kiev. Ukraine begins troop withdrawal. An initial detachment of 137 Ukrainian soldiers arrived at a military airfield in Mykolaïv (southern Ukraine) abord two aircraft from al-Kut in Wassit Province. A second group of 590 will be repatriated in May. The rest of the contingent will return home in October.
Washington. Halliburton accused of overcharging US military after government audit. Halliburton is unable to justify $108 in charges to the US government for services rendered in Iraq.
Hilla. Demonstrations continue in protest against Jordan. Demonstrators marched through the main streets of Hilla to protest the involvement of a Jordanian man in the February 28 bombing which killed 118. The crowd condemned Jordan and King Abdullah II. The organizers made the same demands as similar demonstrations in Baghdad, Najaf and Karbala: the expulsion of the Jordanian Ambassador and economic sanctions against the country. In addition, the protesters in Hilla demanded the explusion of all Jordanian nationals in Iraq and the resignation of the Allawi government. Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari summoned Jordanian chargé d’affaires Dimaï Haddad to protest the martyrdom ceremony organized by the family of alleged terrorist Raëd al-Banna, said to be responsible for the bombing. Mansour al-Banna says an anonymous source told him his son had died in Mossul and is buried there. Meanwhile, Jordanian authorities released journalist Hadi Abdellatif al-Nsour of the Amman newspaper al-Ghad who was taken into custody on charges of fabricating the story.
Najaf. Police claim they have arrested the assassin of Shi'ite leader Mohammed Bakr Hakim. A Kurd from Mosul going by the name of "Hachem" was arrested ten days ago in Najaf in the death of Ayatollah Mohammed Bakr Hakim in August 2003, which also killed 80 civilians. General Ghaleb al-Jazaïri says Hachem planned a further attack on Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani.
Sofia. Bulgarian government demands apology from US. Bulgarian President Georgui Parvanov has demanded an apology and an indemnity from the US for the death of a Bulgian soldier from US "friendly fire." However, Parvanov will keep his 400 troops in Iraq until the end of 2005.
22:55 Rome. Ex-commandant of Abu Ghraib Prison says Pentagon knew of abuses. Gen. Janice Laigh Karpinski went on Italian television network RAI-3 to say that Pentagon officials news of torture practices.
21:18 Baghdad. New parliament to sit tomorrow without forming new government. A month and a half has passed with no agreement on the composition of a new government. Shi'ite politician Jawad Maliky is optimistic but Kurds have thrown cold water on a rapid compromise. However, Sh'ite politician Mohammad Bahr al-Uloum says a compromise could be reached within a few days.
20:58 Washington. Anthrax at postal sorting center. A Pentagon postal center tests positive for anthrax.
20:27 Ramadi. US troops kill Iraqi army general at checkpoint. US troops opened fire and killed the Vice Commandant of al-Anbar Province as he was taking a walk after curfew.
20:06 Jerusalem. Sharon rejects idea of truce with Palestinians. In a meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Jan Pieter Balkenende, Ariel Sharon said the truce reached with Abu Mazen on 8 February in Sharm al-Sheik was worthless unless Abu Mazen disarms Palestinian radicals.
19:18 Rome. Italian lower house approves financing of Italian contingent for six months.
18:02 Isfahan. OPEC could raise production by 1 million barrels per day. Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahd al-Sabah of Kuwait proposes a two-phase production increase.
18:01 Beiji. Oil pipeline sabotaged. A pipeline transmitting oil from the Kirkuk oil fields to a refinery at Beiji has been sabotaged.
16:44 Baghdad. Carbomb kills US soldier. A car bombing in west Baghdad killed one US soldier and wounded another six. Troops had just arrived at a gasoline service station when the explosion occurred.
15:18 Nassiriya. Wounded Italian paratrooper dies. Sgt. Salvatore Marracino of the 185th Airborne Artillery Regiment in Nassiriya died from his wounds.
15:13 Washington US House of Representatives asks EU to declare Lebanese Hezbollah a terrorist organization. [Fat chance--Nur].
14:26 Baghdad. Three car bombings wound eleven Baghdad. In the early morning hours a white Chevrolet blew up near the Iraqi Health Ministry in the Bab al-Moazam district. The car bomb detonated in the parking lot of a hospital attached to the ministry wounding four. A second car bombing took place near the Sunni mosque of Adilah Khatounin the al-Adhamiyah residential district. Later two car bombs detonated in west Baghdad, not far from the airport, wounding seven, including three police.
13:59 Nassiriya. Italian paratrooper gravely wounded in training accident and was evacuated by helicopter to Kuwait City.
13:30 Isfahan. Saudi Arabia may raise oil production. Saudi Oil Minister Ali al Naimi made the announcement at the OPEC summit in Isfahan, Iran. "We are convinced that we have to satisfy the demand that is out there. Meanwhile the Libyan Oil Minister Fathi Hamed ben Shawtwan chastised Saudi Arabia for the maverick decision.
12:59 London. North Sea Brent hits $54.00 per barrel. Light crude futures reached a high of $55.22 per barrel before closing at $55.02. Saudi hopes to raise production by 550 thouand barrels per day while Iran, Nigeria, Algeria and Libya oppose the move, hoping to keep total exports at 27 million barrels per day.
12:00 Rome. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said in a prerecorded interview for the TV political talk show Porta a Porta that Italy would being to withdraw its troops in September. We shall begin to reduce our troop presence in Iraq before the end of the year. The first drawdown will be in September. The question of our withdrawal will depend on the capacity of the new Iraqi government to acquire structures for an acceptable level of security. I spoke to Tony Blair about it...public opinion in our respective countries expects us to take such a decision.
11:31 Beirut. Syrians evacuate Intelligence HQ. Syrians have evacuated their intelligence HQ in the Ramlet al-Baida district of Beirut.
10:00 Baghdad. Two Iraqi soldiers killed while defusing a homemade bomb in Doujail, 40 km north of Baghdad.
09:33 Baghdad. Sunni mosque carbombed. A carbomb targeting the Adilah Khatoun mosque in the Baghdad suburb of Bab al-Moazam wounded four.