This week we learned that the blogosphere has lost another good friend. Lurch of Main and Central passed away. A good man, a good soldier and a brilliant journalist, Lurch combined the most wonderful sense of the bizarre with such heart and brains. Lurch valued honorable service but also wrote with great honesty of the reality of our occupation in Iraq and the cost to US soldiers and to the Iraqi people. His insights will be missed as each passing day brings us more news of the human costs of our imperial mission.

Azzaman has one such news story:

U.S. helicopter gun ships opened fire on a house in the small town of Zab in northern Iraq, killing eight people, five of them children from the same family, a police source said.

“It is a massacre. The eight martyrs include two men, one woman and five children,” said a police source, refusing to be named.

The incident took place late last week and U.S. and Iraqi sources have kept it under wraps.

And notes:

Many incidents like these go unreported in the violence-plagued country as reporters are afraid to leave their highly-protected hotels and offices in the capital Baghdad.

Aswat al Iraq reports another incident unnoticed by western press:

An Iraqi civilian was killed by U.S. soldiers’ fire on the outskirts of al-Khalidiya town while the U.S. side declined to confirm or deny the reported incident, police said.

"Soldiers in a U.S. patrol killed a civilian in al-Khalidiya, (20 km) east of Ramadi, on suspicion," an official police source in Anbar told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq – (VOI) on condition of anonymity.

"The victim was driving a taxi cab when U.S. soldiers opened fire at him for drawing near the patrol at an intersection," the source added.

VOI contacted Abdul-Latif Rayan, the Multi-National Force – Iraq (MNF-I) Media Operations Adviser, but he said he had no information on the incident.

Meanwhile, there’s news from the Mosul campaign which Maliki has been touting for almost a month now:

U.S. and Iraqi troops are carrying out military operations in heavily populated areas of the northern city of Mosul to flush out insurgents.

And in their bid they are separating and isolating residential quarters with security barriers and walls making movement rather difficult.

Some quarters like Yarmouk, Thawar and Siha are completed isolated.

But provincial officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, say the Qaeda and other groups opposing U.S. occupation have either fled or merged with the population.

Azzaman adds, in case we have forgotten similar events in Fallujah and other Iraqi cities:

With no guarantees given that the troops would not repeat the mistake committed in other rebel cities in the subjugation of which the U.S. employed warplanes and heavy artillery, tens of thousands of residents are fleeing to safer areas.

Add in increased suicide bombings in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the continued failure of occupation powers to provide basic services – half of Baghdad without water while Baquba continues to struggle with blackouts – and the growing failure of Petraeus’ much touted “Awakening” alliance – due to repeated “friendly fire” incidents

With no successes to report, we are left with virtual media silence from Iraq and Forever War McCain claiming that any discussion of withdrawal:

“…means chaos. That means genocide," the 71-year-old Arizona senator told CNN.
"That means undoing all the success we’ve achieved…”

Perhaps Senator McCain would like to explain to the families of the Iraqi citizens killed week after week in US air strikes and attacks how it could be any worse.

Video note: This is a preview of the upcoming Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan March 13-16 in Washington, organized by Iraq Veterans Against the War. Part 2 of the preview can be viewed here.