Iraq air crash kills 31 US troops
A 100 feet-long "sea-stallion" helicopter crashed while it was on a "security & stability operation" (Telegraph / NYT).
The U.S. military simply stated that the "weather was bad" and did not rule out hostile fire as a cause. "The helicopters travel by night to reduce the chance of insurgent attacks" (LA Times / NYT / Arab News)
Another military source admitted that the "sea stallion" is "not very manoeuvrable". It is the largest and heaviest helicopter used by US troops (NYT).
This "accident" happens as tension is increasing ahead of the election (BBC).
The total death toll since the invasion is now 1,579 with 1,418 US casualties. However, the death toll is rising faster and faster. In January 2004, US troops had less than 2 casualties per day. This month, the daily toll is already near 4 casualties per day.
This is "nothing" compared to the Iraqi death toll. "Last year, 15,000 insurgents have been killed" said a military source (FT). There would be as much as 17,000 civilian death since the invasion and probably much more as the John Hopkins Bloomberg School statistical survey has shown.
For 1 coalition casualty, at least 11 Iraqi civilians are killed.
The coalition authorities report that the current violence is mainly limited to 4 provinces. Iraq has 18 provinces. (FT)
All these bad news were quickly tackled by a vigorous propaganda from both the Bush administration and the coalition authorities.
Even though the invasion took place almost 2 years ago, Bush declared "in the long term, the mission will spread freedom". (LA Times)
Martyrdom was celebrated by military authorities: "Heroes sacrifice... bringing democracy" (LA Times)
Meanwhile, Al Qaida describes the polls as "centers of infidelity and vice" (San Diego Union Tribune).
Even though their predictions has been proven wrong in the past, the Bush administration was busy making rosy forecasts:
"In March or in April, things will sort themselves" said D. Rumsfeld with his usual language of clarity (Reuters).
When journalists asked how he would judge if the Iraqi election were credible and successfull, Bush declined to say what would be a satisfactory turnout (The Independent). He also stopped short of giving a timetable from withdrawing US troops from Iraq (Turkish Press).
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The Age (subscription), Australia:http://www.theage.com.au/news/Breaking-News/Chopper-crash-kills-31-Marines-in-Iraq/2005/01/27/1106415688605.html?oneclick=true