"A free city that gives reason for hope"

What happened to Tal Afar.


Tim Grieve
March 29, 2007 4:59PM (UTC)

The next time somebody starts talking about progress in Iraq -- that time being now, and the somebody being the president -- it would be good to remember this.

George W. Bush, March 20, 2006: "Today I'd like to share a concrete example of progress in Iraq that most Americans do not see every day in their newspapers and on their television screens. I'm going to tell you the story of a northern Iraqi city called Tal Afar, which was once a key base of operations for al Qaeda and is today a free city that gives reason for hope for a free Iraq ... If you're a resident of Tal Afar today, this is what you're going to see: You see that the terrorist who once exercised brutal control over every aspect of your city has been killed or captured, or driven out, or put on the run. You see your children going to school and playing safely in the streets. You see the electricity and water service restored throughout the city. You see a police force that better reflects the ethnic and religious diversity of the communities they patrol. You see markets opening, and you hear the sound of construction equipment as buildings go up and homes are remade. In short, you see a city that is coming back to life."

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News report, March 29, 2007: "Shiite militants and police enraged by deadly truck bombings went on a shooting rampage against Sunnis in a northwestern Iraqi city Wednesday, killing up to 70 men execution-style and prompting fears that sectarian violence was spreading outside the capital. The killings occurred in the mixed Shiite-Sunni city of Tal Afar ... The gunmen roamed Sunni neighborhoods in Tal Afar through the night, shooting at residents and homes, according to police and a local Sunni politician. Witnesses said relatives of the Shiite victims in the truck bombings broke into Sunni homes and killed the men inside or dragged them out and shot them in the streets. Gen. Khourshid al-Douski, the Iraqi army commander in charge of the area, said 70 were shot in the back of the head and 40 people were kidnapped."


Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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