MORE ON NAJAF….Knight Ridder reports that the assault on Najaf is running into a familiar problem:

“We received a report that a whole battalion (in Najaf) threw down their rifles,” said one high-ranking defense ministry official, who didn’t want his name published because he’s not an official spokesman. “We expected this, and we expect it again and again.”

….”I’m ready to fight for my country’s independence and for my country’s stability,” one lieutenant colonel said. “But I won’t fight my own people.”

“No way,” added another officer, who said his brother – a colonel – quit the same day he received orders to serve in the field. “These are my people. Why should I fight someone just because he has a difference in opinion about the future of the country?”

….when [1st Sgt. Khalid] Ali was asked about the number of guardsmen who have quit since al-Sadr’s latest uprising, U.S. Army 1st Lt. Vernon Sparkmon cut him off.

“Certain things, you can’t discuss,” Sparkmon told Ali. “If somebody asks that question, that’s, like, classified stuff.”

I can certainly see why no one wants this kind of information to become public, but it doesn’t really seem like something that can be kept under wraps for long. Iraqis just don’t seem to be up for an American-backed civil war.

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