In Search of the Missing Three
Unconfirmed reports circulating that the bodies of all three soldiers have been found
As the search for the three missing U.S. soldiers nears the end of its eleventh, ominous news emerges from Iraq that three bodies have been discovered that may be those of the missing soldiers. Earlier today, an Iraqi police source told the Western media that a body "wearing U.S. military-issued pants" was seen floating in the Euphrates River near Mussayab, about 22 miles south of Mahmudiyah. "Witnesses said the man looked 'Western' and had a tattoo on his left arm. He had gunshot wounds to the head and torso," CNN reported. Major General Caldwell confirmed Iraqi police found the body of a man wearing portions of an Army uniform, and Multinational Forces Iraq is working to identify the body.
Voice of Iraq reported two additional bodies wearing U.S. uniforms have been found in Babil province, also near Mussayab. "They bore signs of torture," according to the report posted at IraqSlogger. "The police handed the bodies to the U.S. army and cordoned off the area," however there has been no confirmation from the U.S. military of the report at this time. In today's briefing, Maj. Gen. Caldwell stated intelligence indicates that two soldiers are still believed to be alive.
The New York Times' Damien Cave is embedded with U.S. and Iraqi forces in the Triangle of Death region, and reports that insurgents are now mining the fields and footpaths in an attempt to counter dismounted patrols that are avoiding mined roads in the search for the missing soldiers. U.S. and Iraq troops are taking casualties moving through the farms south of Baghdad. The Triangle of Death region in northern Babil is one of three regions in the Baghdad belts that are the focus of the Baghdad Security Plan, and the search for the U.S. soldiers has focused efforts in the region sooner than expected.
Al Qaeda in Iraq has yet to release a videotape or images of the captured soldiers, which, eleven days after the capture of the soldiers, is unusual. In the past, al Qaeda and allied Salafist groups quickly released video or other media to maximize the propaganda value of its operations. After Ansar al Sunnah killed 6 Marine snipers from the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment operating in the Haditha region in the summer of 2005, the terror group issued a video purporting to display the assault, along with captured weapons, dogtags, gear and what is believed to be the body of one of the Marines.
Also, check out "A Deadly Search" from the NYTimes.
From a milblog that Curt posted on a while ago:
Just got back from a long six days in the Zaidon. Our platoon got sent out a few days early so that we could continue to search for the three Army soldiers that were kidnapped. It’s strange, because I know nothing about what is going on with that story. All we know is that they got taken close to where we were about two weeks ago, and that supposedly they are still alive and being kept prisoner. I haven’t seen any news in weeks so I really don’t know any details.I have not been home much for TV news, or to read a paper. Curt's the latest I heard on the matter (and that was a couple of days ago). I can only keep hoping and praying for their safe well-being.
Anyway, we were running patrols in an area around where they were taken for six days hoping to get lucky. Unfortunately we did not. I pray that a miracle happens and that they stay safe.
This was also of interest, from Jake:
We set up in a house to watch the roads. I was talking to the family, one of the women spoke decent broken English, when one of the guys on watch saw two men run to the intersection, look at the ground, and then sprint off into some fields. We of course assumed that it was someone coming back to finish the job, but we couldn’t tell for sure.Have a visit to Jake's Life and wish him well.
Meanwhile, I continued to talk to the family. We learned a lot from them. One thing that she kept repeating was how happy she was that we were there, and how we bring them safety. She kept thanking us for coming to Iraq and asked us not to leave, that is until she could afford to move to the US. The family was Sunni so its generally rare for them to be so pro-American, but you could tell she was sincere. Well, while we were talking, a car drove by very slowly on the opposite side of their wall. The man of the house stood up cautiously and peeked over the wall. You could tell that he was scared, and when we asked her why, she said that the car was full of insurgents from the southern part of the region. That got the hair on the back of everyone’s neck to stand, things just didn’t seem right. I kept imagining grenades being lobbed over that wall, I knew that they knew we were there, it was just a matter of whether they had the nerve to mess with us. We didn’t stick around to find out, we didn’t want to endanger the family, so we left.