The U.S. military said its forces killed an estimated 49 militants during a dawn raid to capture an Iranian-linked militia chief in Baghdad's Sadr City enclave, one of the highest tolls for a single operation since President Bush declared an end to active combat in 2003.The untenable becomes the insane....
Iraqi police and hospital officials, who often overstate casualties, reported only 15 deaths including three children. Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said all the dead were civilians.
Associated Press photos showed the bodies of two toddlers, one with a gouged face, swaddled in blankets on a morgue floor. Their shirts were pulled up, exposing their abdomens, and a diaper showed above the waistband of one boy's shorts. Relatives said the children were killed when helicopter gunfire hit their house as they slept.
One local resident said some of the casualties were people sleeping on roofs to seek relief from the heat and lack of electricity. The Iraqi officials said 52 were wounded in the raid on the sprawling district.
A local resident who goes by the name Abu Fatmah said his neighbor's 14-year-old son, Saif Alwan, was killed while sleeping on the roof.
''Saif was killed by an airstrike and what is his guilt? Is he from the Mahdi Army? He is a poor student,'' Abu Fatmah said.
An uncle of 2-year-old Ali Hamid said the boy was killed and his parents seriously wounded when helicopter gunfire pierced the wall and windows of their house as they slept indoors.
Relatives gathered at Sadr City's Imam Ali hospital where the emergency room was overwhelmed with bloodied casualties. The dead were placed in caskets covered by Iraqi flags.
APTN video showed three bloodied boys sitting on hospital tables and an elderly man being treated for a head wound. Mourners tied wooden coffins onto the tops of minivans with a plume of smoke in the background. Other footage showed a U.S. helicopter flying over the area while black smoke rose.