Wall Street Journal
As of 3:59 p.m. EST Monday, November 27, 2006
U.S. Fighter Jet Crashes in Iraq;
Reports Indicate Pilot Is Dead
November 27, 2006 3:59 p.m.
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- A mortar attack ignited a huge fire Monday night at an
oil facility in northern Iraq, shutting the flow of crude oil to a major
refinery, and a U.S. Air Force jet with one pilot aboard crashed in Anbar
province, a hotbed of the Sunni-Arab insurgency, officials said. Al-Jazeera
reported that the pilot was killed.
As Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki prepared for a summit meeting with
President Bush this week in Jordan, Britain said it expects to withdraw
thousands of its 7,000 military personnel from Iraq by the end of next year,
and Poland and Italy announced the impending withdrawal of their remaining
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani arrived for an official visit in Iran, where
he is expected to seek its help in preventing Iraq's sectarian violence from
sliding into an all-out civil war. His departure was delayed by a three-day
curfew, which the government lifted Monday.
Two mortar rounds hit the pipeline filtering facility 15 miles northwest of
Kirkuk, according to an official at the North Oil Co., speaking on condition
of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters. The fire
was burning out of control and could take hours or longer to extinguish, and
the flow of oil from all of Kirkuk's rich fields has been shut down to the
massive Beiji refinery to the southwest, the official said.
Reports From Crash
After the F-16CG jet went down, a witness said other U.S. warplanes rushed
to the crash site about 20 miles northwest of Baghdad and circled above it.
The U.S. military, which released a statement on the crash, didn't have any
information on the suspected cause or the fate of the pilot.
But Al-Jazeera television showed videotape of the wreckage in a field and
what appeared to be portions of a tangled parachute nearby, and the
broadcaster said the video included scenes of the dead pilot but that they
were too graphic to air. One shot showed an Air Force seal that said Air
Mohammed Al-Obeidi, who lives in the nearby town of Karmah, said by
telephone that he saw the jet flying erratically before it nose-dived and
exploded in a field.
Separately, police and witnesses said U.S. soldiers shot and killed 11
civilians and wounded five on Sunday night in the Baghdad suburb of
Husseiniya. The U.S. military said it had no record of any American military
operation in the area.
"We were sitting inside our house when the Americans showed up and started
firing at homes. They killed many people and burned some houses," said one
of the witnesses, a man with bandages on his head who was being treated at
Imam Ali Hospital in the Shiite slum of Sadr City. The police and witnesses
spoke with Associated Press Television News on condition of anonymity to
protect their own security.
On Monday, about 250 people attended a memorial service outside the
hospital's morgue for the 11 victims, saying it was being conducted in the
slum because the dead had been followers of the radical anti-American Shiite
cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The cleric and his Madhi Army militia are both based
in Sadr City.
The U.S. command also said three of its soldiers were killed and two wounded
in Baghdad on Sunday, the day that Iraq's government began to lift the
curfew by allowing Iraqis to leave their homes on foot to shop at their
local fruit and vegetable markets. The curfew was imposed Thursday after
suspected Sunni-Arab insurgents used bombs and mortars to kill more than 200
people in Sadr City in the worst attack by militants in the war.
Visit to Tehran
The U.S. wants Iran's mostly Shiite government to do more to help Iraq's
Shiite-dominated government stem a surge in sectarian violence. Mr. Talabani
is a member of Iraq's Kurdish minority, but he had close ties with Iranian
officials before Saddam Hussein was driven out by the U.S.-led invasion in
The Bush administration has accused Tehran of arming and providing
logistical assistance to Shiite militias, and British Defense Secretary Des
Browne said Monday that Iran's behavior in Iraq remains a deep concern.
"Support from within Iran goes to groups who are attacking our forces, but
also to groups who are simply fueling the sectarian violence," Mr. Browne
said in an address to the Royal Institute of International Affairs in
Hard-line Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said Iran is "ready
to help" calm Iraq's fighting.
Meanwhile, Saddam Hussein's genocide trial continued, as two Iraqi Kurds who
left their homeland for the U.S. after Mr. Hussein's crackdown on the
minority group testified, describing harrowing days of firing squads and
Mr. Hussein and his co-defendants have pleaded innocent to charges of war
crimes and crimes against humanity arising from their role in a military
crackdown on Iraq's Kurd population in 1987-88. The prosecution says that
about 180,000 people, mostly civilians, were killed in the campaign against
the Kurds, which was code named Operation Anfal. Mr. Hussein listened
quietly during the testimony.
In other violence, gunmen opened fire on a crowded central Baghdad street on
Monday morning, killing six Iraqis and wounding three, including some
sitting in a parked car, said police Lt. Ali Muhsin.
Police in western Baghdad found the bodies of two Iraqis who had been
kidnapped, blindfolded and shot, said police 1st Lt. Miathem Abdel-Razaq.
Each week, the mutilated bodies of scores of Shiites and Sunnis are found
Separately, the French Defense Ministry said Monday that a
noncommissioned officer in the French spy agency was killed last week by
militia at a border checkpoint in southern Iraq. The agent from the DGSE,
the counterintelligence agency, was killed Nov. 21 in the southern town of
Basra, the ministry said in a statement. The agent wasn't identified by
name, and details surrounding his death weren't immediately available.