Shiites hit the fan in Basra - USAF and RAF start bombing / strafing civilians - the air war helter skelters out of control
Iraq´s average crude oil production for February was 2.4 million barrels per day. Exports averaged 1.93 million barrels per day in the month - although any oil producion/refining/export figures must be viewed with a great deal of caution. "Overall progress has been very slow and there is still no comprehensive metering at oil fields, storage facilities or refineries," U.N. controller Warren Sach told the Security Council December 19th 2007 (Reuters)
Basra Rumaila South and North oil fields produce around 1.3 million barrels per day. The city also is home to one of Iraq´s three largest oil refineries, the Shuaiba refinery which has a capacity of 160,000 barrels a day but has been functioning below capacity at about 100,000 barrels per day.
Control over the southern oil fields and resources is what is really at the heart of the Battle of Basra...
US warplanes bombed Shia militiamen in Basra last night and helicopter gunships fired rockets in militia-controlled areas of Baghdad, as Iraqi government forces proved incapable of dislodging die-hard rebels on their own. The U.S. warplanes killed three militia fighters, the British military reported. The targets were a militia mortar team and a militia stronghold, said Maj. Tom Holloway, a British military spokesman.
“Basra’s government hospitals received more than 60 people killed and 300 others wounded in the clashes that erupted since the midnight of Monday until Thursday evening,” the medical source, who asked not to be named, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq – (VOI).
Updated at 9:20 p.m. EDT, Mar. 28, 2008
At least 163 Iraqis were killed and 214 were wounded in the latest reports of violence. These figures included updated numbers from the Mahdi Army battles taking place since Tuesday.
Iraq’s prime minister has set a deadline for Shia militants in Basra to hand over their weapons, “All those who have heavy and intermediate weapons are to deliver them to security sites and they will be rewarded financially. This will start from March 28 to April 8,” the prime minister said.
Authorities imposed a three-day curfew in Baghdad to contain the violence, since the government launched the offensive on Tuesday. The U.S. military reported killing 78 "bad guys" in Baghdad in the past three days; American forces backed by combat helicopters continued Friday to battle members of the Mahdi Army, a militia loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, in Baghdad.
Mortar shells hit the offices of Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, (a Sunni ,Iraqi Islamic Party and No 3 in the political line of precedence - 2 of his brothers and a sister were killed by Shiite death squads in 2006.) killing two guards and wounding 4 others.
Green Zone attacks this week have killed two Americans; embassy personnel are sleeping in the thick-walled former palace of Saddam Hussein for protection. U.S. government employees are going outside only on urgent business and wearing protective gear.
In an e-mail Friday night, Philip T Reeker, US Embassy spokesman said sleeping in the embassy was clearly a temporary precaution but "highly recommended given the harassing fire we've received in the past week. I, for one, have pulled out a cot in my office."
At 4 a.m. in Sadr City, a helicopter killed four fighters who were engaging U.S. forces with small-arms fire, officials said. At 7 a.m., a U.S. helicopter's Hellfire missile targeted a vehicle armed with rocket-propelled grenades, killing two fighters in the Adhamiyah district of northern Baghdad.
Later in the morning, soldiers fired on militants setting up improvised explosive devices and returning fire from and killing fighters who had rocket-propelled grenade launchers.
"In the last 48 hours, we have seen more extremists," said Lt. Col. Steve Stover, a military spokesman in Baghdad. He said the military had killed 78 "bad guys" in the past three days. "They are violating the rule of law. They are firing rockets indiscriminately. They are criminals and terrorists, and they deserve to die."