Baghdad: Member of Parliament Faleh Hasan Shanshal (of the Al-Sadr bloc) called on the Iraqi government to “issue a clear statement condemning the violations committed by American forces against children, women and property, and for terrorizing peaceful citizens.”

Shanshal described the American bombing at dawn on Sunday which targeted Sadr City as a “massacre," pointing out that it's wasn't the first time American forces bombed residential neighborhoods there. According to the Voice of Iraq news agency, Shanshal said “targeting civilians in the safety of their homes is a flagrant violation of their human rights.”

The American Army said that east of Baghdad in Sadr City, the operation was carried out by its forces early on Sunday morning, and resulted in the deaths of 49 people, whom it described as “criminals,” but a source in the Baghdad office of Al-Shahid Al-Sadr [a welfare agency founded by Muqtada Al-Sadr] declared that, “the people who died in the American raid were civilians, who were not carrying weapons."

Shanshal added that “the operation carried out by American forces in Sadr City against innocent and defenseless human beings shows a real contempt and disregard for the shedding of Iraqi blood,” referring to the deaths of 13 people - including women and children, and the wounding of 59 others, some of whom lie in city hospitals with serious injuries, some of them with amputations. At noon on the day before, Sunday, the inhabitants of Sadr City announced the discovery of the 13 martyrs' corpses, who were killed during the American raid targeting the city.

The Ministerial Committee on National Security, during a meeting headed by the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, discussed a number of security issues, including the raids carried out by multi-national forces in Sadr City. Also present at the meeting were senior political, military and security officials. A cabinet statement said that the Prime Minister stresses the need to avoid the excessive use of force in pursuit of wanted criminals, especially when it might cause harm to innocent people and their property.

Al-Maliki's statement, which was published yesterday by the Azzaman newspaper, called for “better coordination between Iraqi and multinational forces, to better avoid such regrettable incidents.” The Prime Minister also said that an investigation into the operations that took place in Sadr City would be carried out.

Participants at the meeting discussed the situation along the Iraqi-Turkish border and the need to take important decisions regarding the activities of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK ). The Iraqi government considers that the PKK carries out terrorist acts, and that its presence on Iraqi territory is contrary to the Constitution. The Ministerial Committee on National Security issued a statement that said, “We strongly condemn the terrorist acts carried out by the PKK the day before yesterday [Sunday Oct. 20], which resulted in the killing and abduction of several Turkish soldiers, and expresses its deep sympathy for the families of the victims.” It also stressed that “we will work in a variety of ways to obtain the immediate release of the abducted soldiers.”