Michael Howard

Captured videos show ‘al-Qaeda children’ training

American forces in Baghdad on Wednesday warned of a ''disturbing trend in the use and exploitation of children by al-Qaeda in Iraq'', after discovering videos showing young boys being trained in kidnapping and assassination. In one of the videos about 20 boys are seen bristling with pistols, assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

Baghdad bombs strapped to Down’s syndrome women

Remote-controlled explosives were strapped to two women with Down's syndrome and detonated in coordinated attacks on two Friday-morning markets in central Baghdad on Friday, killing at least 73 people and wounding nearly 150. The first targeted shoppers at a pet market in the al-Ghazl area, killing 46 people and injuring 100.

Football triumph offers respite from war

There was little doubt among the hundreds of thousands of revellers who poured defiantly on to the streets of Iraq last Sunday that in winning the Asia Cup in Jakarta, the ''lions of Mesopotamia'', as the national football team is known, had given the country its most important, and perhaps most profound, sporting achievement.

Iraq cancels peace talks after scores more die

The unremitting wave of sectarian violence that has greeted the Muslim holy month of Ramadan claimed scores more Iraqi lives at the weekend, as authorities in Baghdad announced the indefinite postponement of a conference of political leaders seen as crucial to quickly diminishing hopes for national reconciliation.

Iraqi PM, a pragmatist who does not mince his words

Iraq's new Prime Minister, Jawad al-Maliki, is not a household name in his country, but that may work in his favour as he embarks on the task of forming a government of national unity that will satisfy the main Shia, Sunni and Kurdish communities, analysts said recently.

Iraq’s Doctor Death

Lieutenant Arjuman of the Kirkuk police lay unconscious in the recovery room after a successful operation to remove an insurgent's bullet from his chest. Al-Jumhuriya hospital was quiet. At 10.30pm, a doctor moved along the corridor on the second floor and entered the recovery room. He leaned across the bed and turned off the oxygen supply. Half an hour later, Arjuman was dead.

Iraq on brink of civil war

Iraq is on the verge of breaking up along religious, ethnic and tribal lines -- a process bloodily amplified by the Shia versus Sunni violence in the wake the recent bomb attack on the gold-domed shrine in Samarra, the International Crisis Group says in a report.

‘Blooding’ jihadists in Iraq

It could be at least five years before Iraqi forces are strong enough to impose law and order on the country, the International Institute of Strategic Studies has warned. The think tank's report said that Iraq had become a valuable recruiting ground for al-Qaeda, and Iraqi forces were nowhere near close to matching the insurgency.

US losing battle to bombers

In July 2003 when United States President George W Bush was asked about the growing number of attacks by insurgents in Iraq, he said: ''Bring them on. We have the force necessary to deal with the situation.'' That assertion was being questioned again this week after a fresh wave of suicide bombings that has killed nearly 400 people in the past fortnight.

Talabani elected as Iraqi president

The two-month political deadlock over the make-up of Iraq's new leadership ended with the election of the Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani as president on Wednesday. More than nine weeks after the January 30 elections, the Iraqi Parliament voted in Talabani -- a veteran of the Kurds' Saddam-era struggles for independence -- and paved the way for a new government in Baghdad.

Doubt over plan for Iraq elections

Iraq's independent election commission may have designated January 30 2005 as polling day, but it will be the country's interim leaders who will decide whether the first free vote in decades goes ahead as planned. ''What we are saying is that we will be ready to hold nationwide elections on January 30,'' said Adil al-Lami, the chief electoral officer on the commission, which is responsible for organising the vote.

A first step to democracy?

Iraq's national conference has finally chosen the country's first post-Saddam Hussein assembly. After a day of wrangling and confusion, the presiding judges at the conference declared that a government-backed list should be adopted. "This conference is the best thing to happen in Iraq since liberation, but if we muck it up now then the future will look even less rosy," said delegate Ismael Zayer.

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