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May 19, 2004
"Wedding" Attack At 3 AM? Pentagon Says No

Earlier today, the AP and others reported that American military forces fired on a wedding celebration near the Iraqi-Syrian border after mistaking celebratory gunfire for an attack. Now, however, the Pentagon disputes that story and insists that forces attacked a terrorist safe house:

"Our report is that this was not a wedding party, that these were anti-coalition forces that fired first, and that U.S. troops returned fire, destroying several vehicles, and killing a number of them," a Pentagon spokesman said.

He was responding to a video distributed by The Associated Press showing Iraqi witnesses who said that at least 20 people were killed and five others critically wounded early Wednesday when planes fired on a wedding celebration. A man on the video said all homes in the village near the Syrian border were destroyed in the attack at about 3 a.m. local time Wednesday [emph mine]. ...

A coalition official said in a written statement that coalition forces conducted a military operation "against a suspected foreign fighter's safe house in the open desert, 85 km southwest of Husaybah, and 25 km from the Syrian border.

"During the operation, coalition forces came under hostile fire and close air support was provided. Coalition forces on the ground recovered numerous weapons, 2 million Iraqi and Syrian dinar, foreign passports and a satcom radio," the statement said.

I know that the original reports didn't mention the 3 AM attack time, which seems to discredit the notion that the target could have been a wedding party in full swing. Instead, the Pentagon insists that they had intelligence pointing to this location being used as a transit point for terrorists going in and out of Iraq, and the material captured at the location indicated they were correct. Wedding parties don't need satcom radios, for instance, and while the Iraqi dinar is worth pennies now, that amount in Syrian pounds (not dinars) comes to $57,000 and some change.

This incident illustrates the necessity of waiting for further information on these attacks to determine their military necessity. Unfortunately, the wedding-strike meme has already been unleashed onto the public, and I suspect that the media won't do a lot to disabuse us of this fallacy.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 19, 2004 6:44 PM

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» Forty-Seven Funerals and a Wedding from Watcher of Weasels
It is sickening to see the media frenzy over the coalition attack on what would have to have been one of the most poorly planned weddings in human history...  this "wedding" was taking place in the wee hours of the... [Read More]

Tracked on May 22, 2004 12:12 AM

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