U.S. citadel in Baghdad no longer safe

By Mark Follman
September 17, 2004 3:44AM (UTC)
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The security situation in Iraq has turned increasingly worrisome in recent days -- and not even the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad is safe anymore.

"US military officers in Baghdad have warned they cannot guarantee the security of the perimeter around the Green Zone, the headquarters of the Iraqi government and home to the US and British embassies, according to security company employees," the Financial Times reported this afternoon. "At a briefing earlier this month, a high-ranking US officer in charge of the zone's perimeter said he had insufficient soldiers to prevent intruders penetrating the compound's defences."

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Even more ominous, in the shadow of Tuesday's massive car bomb attack on the Iraqi police headquarters in Baghdad, is that insurgents may have already infiltrated the stronghold:

"The US major said it was possible weapons or explosives had already been stashed in the zone, and warned people to move in pairs for their own safety. The Green Zone, in Baghdad's centre, is one of the most fortified US installations in Iraq. Until now, militants have not been able to penetrate it. But insurgency has escalated this week, spreading to the centre of Baghdad. The zone is home to several thousand Iraqis, and on Sunday it came under the heaviest attack since it was established. Up to 60 unexploded rockets were found inside its perimeters after a five-hour barrage."

The report comes on a day already dark with worry over the situation in Iraq; a new National Intelligence Estimate prepared for President Bush in July forecast a grim future for the reconstruction -- a conclusion reached well before the current wave of violence and bloodshed.


Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

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