Events feel like they're moving toward some kind of climax in Sadr City, with families moving out and scattered violence on the upswing throughout Iraq, reports Alissa J. Rubin of the Times. Attempted assassinations of two dignitaries in Abu Dshir, a mostly Shi'ite neighborhood in southern Baghdad, prompted clashes there between the Mahdi Army and the National Police. Three people were killed and nine wounded. The fighting was between men loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr and Abul Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. Two mortar shells hit Baghdad's municipal building, killing three and wounding 15. Families are leaving Sadr City, trickling into the sports stadium in Baladiat on the western edge of the Shi'ite enclave. As many as 1,500 families are expected to go there in the coming days. There are no latrines and not enough water. Elsewhere, a car bomb exploded in Tikrit, killing two civilians and wounding 26. An American soldier was killed in Nineveh province, while Sunni extremists killed three Iraqi women and wounded two others.
Sholnn Freeman of the Post reports on the difficulties American soldiers face as rivalries, rumors and finger pointing undermine attempts to create a lasting peace in Adhamiya. Awakening fighters are frustrated at not being integrated into the security forces, and roadside bombs have started popping up again in the largely Sunni neighborhood. The fighters seem to be breaking into factions. Al Qaeda in Iraq's popularity is also on the upswing.
The Times's Carl Hulse reports on the various bills to increase aid and benefits to veterans before Congress. The White House and Sen. John McCain oppose it as too expensive and harmful to military retention rates. (The bi-partisan bill gives more money for college tuition.) Democrats in Congress, of course, love this as it gives them a major election-year issue.
Paul Krane of the Post pens a curtain raiser on the last major battle Democrats get with President George W. Bush over the war, linking war funding to domestic spending and a troop-withdrawal timeline. The $195 billion spending bill would fund both Afghanistan and Iraq well into next year, add $11 billion to extend unemployment benefits and $1 billion to expand the G.I. Bill's college tuition provision. Naturally, a veto threat is forthcoming and Republicans say the Democrats are playing politics. (Which they are, but it's also fair game.)
IN OTHER COVERAGE
New York Times
Manohla Dargis reviews "Battle for Haditha," a film about the November 2005 encounter between Iraqis and U.S. marines that left 24 civilians dead and the marines under investigation. While four of the marines were eventually cleared of all charges and a fourth is facing reduced charges, these facts are not in dispute: no weapons were found in the houses, most victims died from close-range gunfire and at least five were shot in the head. The victims included at least 10 women and children. This film, from Nick Broomfield, is a dramatized documentary, with actors and a screenplay, although most of the actors are amateurs and real Iraqi refugees. (It was shot in Jordan.) Broomfield does a good job here; "He points fingers, suggests reasons and explores rationales, showing sympathy for the war-ravaged marines without letting them off the hook."
Christian Science Monitor and USA Today
No original Iraq coverage today.