2008 in Iraq - Events - April


  • 1 April – The British defense minister, Des Browne, said that the number of British troops in Iraq will remain at the current level of around 4,000 for the time being, particularly in light of the Battle of Basra (2008) in the week of 24 March 2008.
  • 2 April – Al-Sadr's Sadrist Movement called for millions of Iraqis to demonstrate against the U.S. presence in Iraq, a protest that would coincide with scheduled testimony in Washington D C from top U.S. officials in Iraq and the anniversary of the toppling of the Saddam Hussein-regime.
  • 3 April –
    • Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr offered to help purge Iraqi security forces of Mahdi Army-members. But he also criticized the Iraqi government for denying that it sent envoys to him to discuss the Battle of Basra (2008) in the week of 24 March 2008. The Iraqi government said the operation that began 25 March targeted criminals who had been carrying out indiscriminate attacks, burglaries and oil smuggling. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called the Battle of Basra (2008) but said it exposed weaknesses in the security forces, including operational snafus and troop desertions that he said will be addressed and reviewed. He brushed off criticism that the widespread action was poorly planned, was politically motivated and failed to dislodge the renegade militias from their strongholds across Basra. Al-Maliki promised a major offensive targeting Al-Qaeda in Iraq in the northern city of Mosul.
    • A Sadr City resident said mosque loudspeakers blared the call to protest.
  • 4 April – Saleh al-Ageili, a spokesman for the Sadrist Movement, reported that Muqtada al-Sadr had called for peaceful demonstrations in Sadr City after prayers "to protest the campaign of raids carried out by the occupier."
  • 7 April –
    • The Pentagon said it does not expect Gen. David Petraeus to recommend or predict additional U.S. troop cuts in Iraq, beyond the 20,000 U.S. troops returning home as the troop "surge" ends in July 2008, when he testifies before his "State of Iraq" report to the United States Congress on 8 April 2008 and 9 April 2008. After the surge ends in July 2008, there will be 15 U.S. combat brigade teams in Iraq, and roughly 140,000 American troops.
    • White House spokesman Tony Fratto admitted the Battle of Basra (2008)-operation was not "an overall success" for Iraqi government forces.
  • 8 April –
    • Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of multinational forces in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker answered questions from key member of the United States Senate. All three leading presidential candidates—Democratic Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and Republican Sen. John McCain – questioned Petraeus and Crocker.
    • Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of multinational forces in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, told the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services and the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations that Iranian agents and weapons are fueling the ongoing strife there and that further U.S. troop withdrawals will have to wait. Although the last of the additional U.S. combat brigades dispatched in 2007 is scheduled to leave in June 2008, Petraeus said he would recommend against further withdrawals for at least 45 days. Future troop levels be based on conditions on the ground. In the seven months since their last appearance before Congress, U.S. and Iraqi forces made progress toward tamping down the violence but the progress was "fragile" and "reversible."
    • Petraeus told senators the Iraqi government's operation Battle of Basra (2008) "could have been better planned, and the preparation could have been better." He said that once the forces got into Basra, "they ended up going into action more quickly than anticipated" and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki didn't follow his advice to move at a more careful pace.
    • Opening the Senate hearings, the Armed Services Committee chairman, Carl Levin, said the United States must come up with a timeline for ending its involvement in Iraq.
    • When asked by Republican Senator John Warner whether the Iraq War is making the U.S. safer, Petraeus stated that it would ultimately be up to history.
    • Republican Senator Chuck Hagel asked about Ambassador Ryan Crocker's "diplomatic surge," and its apparent lack of results in the region.
    • Senator George Voinovich, a Republican, broke with his party line, saying the country is, "kind of bankrupted ... in a recession."
    • Republican Senator Bob Corker asked for an articulated exit strategy.
    • John McCain, the top Republican on the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services and a leading advocate of the 2007-troop increase, said the United States is no longer "staring into the abyss of defeat" as a result.
    • Hillary Clinton said it would be "irresponsible" to continue a failed policy in Iraq. She said it is "time to begin an orderly process of withdrawing our troops" from Iraq in order to focus on Afghanistan and other U.S. interests.
    • Barack Obama, a member of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, questioned whether the conditions set by U.S. commanders for withdrawal would lead to a war that could last until 2028 or 2038. He called the invasion of Iraq a "massive strategic blunder" that allowed Al-Qaeda and Iran to spread their influence into Iraq, and said the United States should pressure Iraqi officials to settle the war by threatening to leave. Senator Barack Obama remarked, "if the definition of success is so high: no traces of Al Qaida and no possibility of reconstitution, a highly-effective Iraqi government, a democratic multi-ethnic, multi-sectarian functioning democracy with no Iranian influence, at least not of the kind that we don't like, then that portends the possibility of us staying for 20 or 30 years. If, on the other hand, our criteria is a messy, sloppy status quo but there's not huge outbreaks of violence, there's still corruption, but the country is struggling along, but it's not a threat to its neighbors and it's not an Al Qaida base, that seems to me an achievable goal within a measurable timeframe."
    • America's ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, said that the United States has to keep its forces in Iraq unless it wants Iran to have a free hand in Iraq.
  • 9 April – Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of multinational forces in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker answered questions from United States House of Representatives members.
  • 10 April –
    • President George W. Bush is expected to announce the shortening of the Army combat-zone tours from 15 months to 12 months as of the summer of 2008.
    • Unmanned aerial vehicles targeted and killed six "heavily armed criminals" in northeastern Baghdad.
  • 11 April –
    • Muqtada al-Sadr accused Iraqi and U.S. forces of attacking Sadr City, just hours after the Shiite cleric called for calm in the wake of the assassination of Sayyed Riyadh al-Nuri, one of his top aides in the southern city of Najaf. Sheikh Fowzi Saad al-Obeidi called the killing an "act of provocation" after the "siege of Sadr City." He was referring to the battles since 6 April 2008 involving members of al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia and Iraqi security forces dominated by a rival Shiite political movement, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council. That fighting started with the Battle of Basra (2008) and spread to other Shiite regions, including Sadr City and the Babil provincial capital of Hilla. The intra-Shiite fighting in Iraq that has killed hundreds of people in the past two weeks involved two main movements: members of the Mahdi Army militia loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr, and Iraqi security forces dominated by the chief political rival of the Sadrists, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. The al-Nuri assassination prompted officials to expand the daily curfew in Hilla. 17 people killed over 24 hours in airstrikes, fighting and attacks in areas wracked in recent weeks by fighting among Shiites. Witnesses and media reported heavy fighting between U.S.-backed Iraqi troops and al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia. U.S. troops working in support of Iraqi soldiers killed two snipers. At the same time at least six roadside bombs damaged vehicles in a U.S. Army convoy that was transporting barriers for a group of Iraqi Army soldiers establishing a checkpoint.
    • Unmanned aerial vehicles targeted and killed six suspected insurgents in Basra.
    • Suicide bombings killed at least four people—three of them police. The first bombing was in Ramadi, the provincial capital of the predominantly Sunni Anbar province. At least three national police officers were killed. The second attack took place at a checkpoint about 20 km north of Baiji, the bomber and one other person a local Awakening Council were killed. Also, at least three people were killed in a mortar attack on Baghdad's Palestine Hotel.
  • 14 April – Three people died in the nearby city of Tal Afar when a suicide attacker blew himself up at an Iraqi soldier's funeral.
  • 15 April – A wave of bombings blamed on Al-Qaeda in Iraq-jihadists shook Baghdad, Baquba, Ramadi and Mosul, killing at least 60 people. Nonetheless, the overall violence in Baquba has decreased by 80 percent since June 2007.
  • 17 April – A suicide bomber killed at least 15 people and wounded many others in a suicide attack on a crowd of mourners in Baquba, during the funerall of two members of a local group who had died fighting al-Qaeda in Iraq militants.
  • 22 April – A female suicide bomber killed six people and wounded a dozen others when she blew herself up north of Baghdad according to Iraqi police.
  • 29 April – In April 2008, the United States government accused an alleged Iranian-backed insurgency of launching attacks on Iraqi civilians and US-led multinational forces and claimed that approximately 90 percent of foreign militants entered Iraq through Syria, but again, provided no proof. "Iran and Syria must stop the flow of weapons and foreign fighters into Iraq, and their malign interference in Iraq," U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said Monday in a report to the U.N. Security Council on behalf of the multinational force in Iraq. The Iranian and Syrian governments, however, have repeatedly denied trying to destabilize Iraq and insist there is no proof.

Read more about this topic:  2008 In Iraq, Events

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