Moral Outrage
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Did American SWAT team lead botched assault on Catholic Iraqi church?

Baghdad mourned the 58 Christians killed in one of Baghdad’s most prominent churches, where dozens were also wounded, when Sunni Muslim militants took the congregation hostage after a failed attempt on the Iraqi stock exchange.

An Iraqi government swat team went in for a rescue, but the guerrillas turned out to be suicide bombers who detonated their payloads inside the church. Iraqi Christians are complaining bitterly that the government mishandled the rescue.

And it appears that American SWAT teams led the deadly assault to free the hostages, though Iraqi officials insisted Monday only their own forces were involved.

“I was freed by Americans, they came first and the Iraqis came after,” said an 18-year-old man outside the church, shortly after the deadly Sunday night drama ended.

“My mother just called me on her cellphone to say that the Americans have freed them, and she is waiting outside the church,” said Yusef Fathallah, a 30-year-old shop owner shortly after the explosions.

An AFP journalist saw three US soldiers wearing assault gear standing in the shadows outside the church on Sunday night.”There could have been more, but they were standing in the shadows,” he said.

Church officials described the attack, which occurred during Sunday mass, as the bloodiest against Iraq’s Christians in the seven years of sectarian war that followed the 2003 US-led invasion.

Iraqi Human Rights Minister Wijdan Michael, a Christian, said at the scene of the Baghdad attack: “What happened was more than a catastrophic and tragic event. In my opinion, it is an attempt to force Iraqi Christians to leave Iraq and to empty Iraq of Christians.”

Iraq’s Christians once numbered 1.5 million out of a total Iraqi population of about 30 million.

The operatives who took hostages said that they were taking revenge for Qur’an-burnings by churches in the United States.

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One Response to “Did American SWAT team lead botched assault on Catholic Iraqi church?”

  1. UPDATE: About three dozen survivors of this brutal attack have found refuge in France, where they have been given temporary status as asylum seekers.

    The 35 Iraqis, many of them with bullet and grenade wounds, arrived by plane in Paris on Monday night and were taken by ambulance to hospitals.

    Another group of 93 people is scheduled to arrive in the coming weeks, France’s immigration ministry said.

    French Immigration Minister Eric Besson said France was offering refuge to 150 victims of the attack as a gesture of friendship and support to Christians who face hardships.

    They will be issued a long-stay, renewable visa by the French Embassy in Baghdad, health coverage and a permit that allows them to work for at least six months. Besson said the government will help the Iraqis find jobs.


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