FACTS ON THE GROUND….A friend asked me recently why I didn’t post much about the surge. It’s deliberate, I said: the problems in Iraq strike me as deep and fundamental, not things that are truly affected by either daily setbacks or short-term successes. Fair enough, he emailed back, but the price of avoiding day-to-day news from Iraq is the inability to get ahead of the curve and spot emerging trends.

Well, OK. Here’s today’s news:

Suicide bombers struck a small Iraqi religious sect in the northwestern part of the country Tuesday, killing at least 175 people and wounding 200, the Iraqi army reported.

The devastating attack on the Yazidi sect, whose adherents are primarily Kurdish, capped a day of violence marked by the bombing of a bridge north of Baghdad and the abduction of several Oil Ministry officials, including a deputy oil minister.

Also Tuesday, the U.S. military reported the deaths of nine Americans in three separate incidents, including the crash of twin-rotor Chinook helicopter. The Chinook went down in Anbar province Tuesday during a “routine post-maintenance check flight,” killing five service members, the military said. The cause of the crash, which the military said occurred in the vicinity of Taqaddum Air Base, is under investigation.

Three U.S. soldiers were killed Monday by a roadside bomb in Nineveh province in the northwestern part of the country, officials said, while one was killed in combat in western Baghdad.

Crikey. Can I go back to avoiding the daily news now?

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