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Baghdad Rocket Attacks Are 'Militarily Insignificant'

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 21, 2003 – Unconventional rocket attacks that struck the Iraqi oil ministry and two hotels in Baghdad today indicate insurgents' increasing difficulty in carrying out assaults against U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq, according to a senior U.S. military officer.

Donkey-cart-launched rockets hit the Palestine and Sheraton hotels as well as the ministry building, Army Brig. Gen. Mark T. Kimmitt, deputy director for operations for Combined Joint Task Force 7 in Iraq, told reporters in Baghdad press conference.

"Clearly, the enemy has been taking a look at our operations and realize that we are clamping down," Kimmitt explained, noting the insurgents "can't attack us and defeat us in a convention sense."

Consequently, the general noted, insurgents are now attempting to adversely affect the will of U.S.-coalition efforts in Iraq though attention-getting assaults on non-military targets like the oil ministry and the hotels.

An American civilian seriously injured in the Palestine Hotel attack was evacuated for medical care, Kimmitt noted, while another civilian at the Sheraton was slightly injured.

"But, these attacks have had, frankly, no tactical value and they are militarily insignificant," Kimmitt declared.

Kimmitt noted that three of the four donkeys rounded up after the Baghdad rocket attacks were harnessed to rocket-launching devices.

Another donkey, Kimmitt remarked, was found carrying explosives and a propane tank. "You'd detonate the propane tank; loud boom, loud flash - dead donkey," he concluded.

Why, Kimmitt rhetorically asked, would insurgents be "firing rockets at an empty (oil) ministry building on a Friday, which is (the) equivalent of a European Sunday?

"They're trying to grab headlines," he answered.

U.S.-coalition security and stability operations continue across Iraq, Kimmitt reported, noting that on Nov. 20 a U.S. soldier on patrol near Ghalibiyah, west of Baghdad, was killed by a booby trap.

Another U.S. soldier died that day and two were wounded when their convoy encountered two improvised explosive devices east of Ramadi, according to a U.S. Central Command news release.

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