Nearly 70 Iraqi resistance fighters were killed in aerial bombardments by US jet fighters on Sunday near the town of Ramadi in western Iraq, a US military statement claimed.
The report said that some 20 men were killed by a US precision-guided bomb when they supposedly attempted to lay a roadside bomb east of Ramadi. Another 50 were killed in and around the city by an assortment of US aircraft attacks, including jet fighters and helicopters, according to Reuters.
Bassem Al Dulaimi, al doctor in Ramadi, said that 25 civilians had been killed in the attack, though US sources stated that there were no civilian casualties as a result of the incident. Dulaimi also reported a total of eight civilians wounded in the attack. Other witnesses said at least 39 of the dead were civilians.
Violence to rise as election points towards passage of constitution
Ramadi officials reported extremely low voter turnout for Saturday’s monumental elections, whose preliminary results hint towards passage of the nation's first constitution. Initial counts revealed that Iraq’s Sunni minority failed to muster the two-thirds vote required to vote down the controversial document.
Sunnis failed to gain the necessary votes in three of Iraq’s 18 provinces, as Shiite and Kurdish votes were strong in central provinces crucial to the vote, according to the AP.
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani declared December 15 as the next voting date, when Iraq will hold parliamentary elections. If the constitution is approved, the new parliament will be installed on December 31. If it fails, however, a new draft will be proposed and the parliament will be installed on a temporary basis only.
If permanent, it will be the first time since Saddam Hussein was deposed in 2003 that Iraq will have a full-term parliament.
While many view passage of the constitution as a major step towards Iraqi democracy and the withdrawal of foreign occupation troops, it has been the center of controversy since its drafting began and on to its proposal to voters, with Sunni groups feeling it is biased towards Iraq’s Kurdish and Shiite communities. Any outcome, therefore, is expected to be divisive, with approval of the document thought to lead to more attacks against troops in Iraq by Sunni fighters.
Sheikh Abdul-Salam Al Kubaisi, of the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars, told reporters that "If the constitution was passed, the attacks will definitely rise against the occupation forces, and the security situation is going to be worse."
The group is thought to be behind many of the attacks against Iraqi and allied troops in recent months, according to Iraqi authorities.
© 2005 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )