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U.S., Iraqi troops kill 33 insurgents

Thirty three Sunni insurgents, holding back the water supply to the Shiite town of Khalis, were killed by hundreds of U.S. and Iraqi forces backed by helicopters and jet fighters.

At least five people were killed in gunfire as more than a million Shiite pilgrims jammed the holy city of Karbala. The violence apparently erupted when the Shiite faithful tried to push past frustratingly slow security checkpoints near the Imam al-Hussein mosque.

A member of the city council said the center of town was in chaos with pilgrims running in all directions to escape the gunfire. No one, he said, was sure who was doing the shooting. He said a rocket-propelled grenade exploded near the shrine.

"We don't know what's going on," said the councilman, who wouldn't allow use of his name for security reasons. "All we know is the huge numbers of pilgrims was too much for the checkpoints to handle and now there is shooting."

Four people - two men and two women - were killed in a similar melee near the mosque Monday night. Associated Press Television News pictures from the city, 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Baghdad, showed pilgrims running helter-skelter as gunfire, apparently police shooting into the air, rang out through the streets near the mosque.

The assault north of Baghdad began before dawn on Monday when a joint force was landed by helicopter in the village of Gubbiya, 15 kilometers (10 miles) east of Khalis. The assault force killed 13 fighters and attack aircraft killed 20 others, the military said. The area is known to be controlled by al-Qaida in Iraq. Khalis, 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Baghdad, has been the scene of repeated Sunni insurgent bombings and mortar attacks.

"The objective of the mission was to open the spillway, which regulates water flow to the town of Khalis, restoring the essential service of water," the statement said.

The assault uncovered three weapons caches, led to the capture of three men and "water is currently flowing unimpeded to Khalis," the military said. The statement did not say if any U.S. or Iraqi soldiers were killed or wounded.

A Bradley Fighting Vehicle was seen engulfed in flames at the side of the road leading to Baghdad Airport Tuesday morning, but there was no immediate report about the incident from the military. It appeared to have been hit by a huge explosion. The stretch of highway is one of the most heavily guarded in Iraq.

In Fallujah, the Sunni city 65 kilometers (40 miles) west of Baghdad, mourners buried 11 victims of a mosque suicide bombing Monday night. Ten people were wounded in the attack which police said targeted an anti-al-Qaida Sunni sheik who had just returned from Syria.

Meanwhile, suspected Sunni gunmen kept up attacks on pilgrims traveling to and from Karbala for the Shabaniyah festival, which marks the birth of Mohammed al-Mahdi, the 12th and last Shiite imam who disappeared in the 9th century. Devout Shiites believe he will return to Earth to restore peace and harmony.

A boy was killed and his father was wounded by drive-by shooters who opened fire on their car as they drove home from Karbala. In a separate incident gunmen opened fire randomly on vehicles returning to Baghdad, wounding two pilgrims ina small bus. And a sniper opened fire on pilgrims in southern Baghdad, wounding four. All the incidents were reported by local police who refused to give their names because they were not authorized to release the information.

Sunni politicians, meanwhile, applauded goals set down in an agreement hammered out by the country's top leaders under intense American pressure but expressed doubt that the U.S.-backed prime minister would actually see them through.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and four other senior leaders declared Sunday they had reached a consensus on a number of issues, including freeing detainees held without charge, easing the ban on former Saddam Hussein supporters in government posts, regulating the oil industry and holding provincial elections.

No details were released, and most measures require parliamentary approval.

But in a step toward implementing the deal, U.S. and Iraqi officials announced Monday that coalition forces would increase the number of detainees released during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which begins next month.

"Releases will start as early as this week and continue through the end of Ramadan," the U.S. command said in a statement. It did not say how many would be freed.

U.S. President George W. Bush hailed the agreement, saying it "begins to establish new power-sharing agreements."

"These leaders ... recognize the true and meaningful reconciliation that needs to take place," Bush said in a brief statement Monday upon arrival in Albuquerque, New Mexico. "They recognize this is a process. Yesterday's agreement reflects their commitment to work together for the benefit of all Iraqis to further the process."

However, the deal did not convince the main Sunni Arab political bloc to take back the government posts they abandoned this month over differences with al-Maliki, a Shiite.

The Sunni walkout has paralyzed the government ahead of a crucial report to Congress by Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Gen. David Petraeus, which will likely determine the fate of the troubled U.S. military mission in Iraq.

Some key Sunni figures on Monday dismissed the agreement as a stalling tactic by al-Maliki to ease pressure from Washington.

"Our position is that this meeting represents a new phase of procrastination and does not honestly aim at solving the problems quickly," said Khalaf al-Ilyan, a leader of the Sunni bloc, the Iraqi Accordance Front. "I think that no real or practical solution will come out of this."

Another Front leader, Adnan al-Dulaimi, said the accord included "good decisions that would serve the whole Iraqi people."

"But we doubt that they will be implemented," he said. "All our experience with al-Maliki indicates that this is another new set of delaying measures. They give you a glimmer of hope, but at the end of the day you get nothing but promises."

With opposition to the war mounting in the United States, American diplomats have been pressing for the Iraqis to demonstrate political progress ahead of the Sept. 15 report to Congress.

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Israel’s War on Palestinian Schoolchildren

by Stephen Lendman
 
Israel is a flagrant human rights abuser, Palestinians treated like enemies of the state, children as viciously mistreated as adults.
 
They’re terrorized by Israel ruthlessly. Though some are too young to know why, they learn soon enough what they’re up against - what oppressive apartheid rule is all about.
 
Israel ratified the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). It doesn’t matter, the Jewish state brazenly violating its provisions.
 
Article 37 states in part:
 
“No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
 
“No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily.”
 
“The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.”
 
“Every child deprived of liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and in a manner which takes into account the needs of persons of his or her age.”
 
“Every child deprived of his or her liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance, as well as the right to challenge the legality of the deprivation of his or her liberty before a court or other competent, independent and impartial authority, and to a prompt decision on any such action.”
 
Principle 1 of the 1959 UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child states:
 
“Every child, without exception whatsoever, shall be entitled to (fundamental human and civil) rights, without distinction or discrimination on account of race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, whether of himself or of his family.”
 
They’re entitled to special protections and opportunities to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually, and socially under conditions of freedom and dignity.
 
Not in Occupied Palestine. They’re terrorized for not being Jewish - at home, at play, and at school, including by tear gas fired into schoolyards and classrooms.
 
Last week, the IDF lied, denying that soldiers fired a tear gas canister at a Hebron school. They were caught red-handed on video, the incident happening in mid-November.
 
A Big Lie followed, the IDF claiming it was in response to children throwing stones. In class at the time, they were unaware of what was about to happen until aggressively attacked by tear gas.
 
It wasn’t an isolated incident. It happens repeatedly throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
 
An IDF spokesman turned truth on its head, saying “(r)iots (sic) take place on a weekly basis in the vicinity of schools, where rocks are thrown at forces and civilians,” adding: 
 
“As a rule, no tear gas is used against schools. However, the changes in weather must be taken into account and some of the tear gas smoke might disperse with the wind in different directions.”
 
Video evidence outside Hebron’s Al Khalil Schools for Boys showed an unprovoked soldier, firing a tear gas canister into the school’s yard. Its teachers explained that the same thing happens repeatedly.
 
According to Breaking the Silence research director Ron Zaidel, “while thousands of Palestinian students are suffocating from tear gas, the IDF spokesperson is trying to put up a smoke screen to hide the reality on the ground from the public,” adding: 
 
“(T)housands of testimonies that we have collected over the years clearly show that violence against children is an unavoidable part of the military dictatorship ruling a civilian population.” 
 
“When the facts are clear and known, each and every one of us must ask ourselves a simple question: Is this reality acceptable to us, or is it not?”
 
According to Palestinian officials, in 2017 alone, Israeli soldiers attacked 95 West Bank schools - terrorizing and traumatizing young children.
 
In its annual report, the Palestinian education ministry documented evidence of over 80,000 children and nearly 5,000 teachers and staff attacked by soldiers or settlers.
 
Last year, nine students were killed, around 600 children and teachers injured, hundreds arrested for the crime of teaching and learning.
 
What’s going on is related to Israeli land theft for exclusive Jewish development and use - including settlement construction, commercial projects, closed military zones, parks, open spaces, and the Separation Wall.
 
Palestinian schools are being demolished to make way for the above developments, young children and teachers terrorized to force them out.
 
Under the pretext of building classrooms without virtually impossible to get permits, Israeli authorities demolished EU-funded schools.
 
Military checkpoints and other obstructions greatly delay or prevent thousands of students and hundreds of teachers from reaching existing classrooms.
 
According to Masafer Yatta village council member Nidal Younis, “(c)an anyone else in the world imagine themselves as a child, or imagine their children, trying to get a proper education under these conditions?”
 
Can anyone imagine the obstacles teachers and schoolchildren face under conditions hostile to teaching and learning?
 
Israel wants control over all valued parts of Judea and Samaria - systematic ethnic cleansing its way of achieving its goal at the expense of millions of Palestinians denied their fundamental rights.
 
Young children in their formative years are harmed most. 

Russia’s unmanned underwater drone Poseidon disassembled

The prospective Russian unmanned underwater vehicle Poseidon will be launched for the first time this fall, a source in the military-industrial complex of Russia said.

According to the source, the Poseidon will be launched from the Belgorod nuclear submarine.

The vehicle has not been assembled yet - scientists only test separate components and units of the system.

Alexander Zhilin, the head of the Center for the Study of Public Applied Issues of National Security, believes that the underwater drone can be on alert and take part in military operations at any time without any restrictions. According to the expert, the drone provides enormous protection against external interventions.

In February 2019, the Ministry of Defense unveiled the first video of Poseidon's range operations.  Putin later said that the drone carrier would be launched in spring.