UPDATE: Into Madaen

Iraqi forces raid village in hostage crisis

maskediraqipoliceman.jpg(In typical changealink fashion, MSNBC continues to use the same URL for this story for the third straight day even though the pages themselves have changed considerably over that time.)

In Madain, where the Sunni-Shiite hostage situation was occurring, security forces that had surrounded the town began raiding sites Saturday in search of the hostages, said Qassim Dawoud, the minister in charge of national security.

An Iraqi couple pleads for the safety of their sons, who are being held captive in the town of Madain, southeast of Baghdad, on Sunday.
Early Sunday, Iraqi forces freed about 15 Shiite families, said Haidar Khayon, an official at the Defense Ministry in Baghdad. He said five hostage-takers were captured in a skirmish with light gunfire, but no casualties were reported. It was not immediately clear how many hostages were still being held.

No word in this revision about US forces.

Also, typical of all iterations of this story, the article headlines the Iraqi hostage crisis, mentions it quickly, then spends a while talking about suicide bombs, Iraqi civilians killed, and American casualties elsewhere before returning to the hostage story. Then, after a quick quote or two, it returns to news of insurgent attacks elsewhere and worries about the impending Iraqi civil war.

The pic here is of an Iraqi soldier standing guard outside Madaen. At some point we’ll reach the point where insurgents are the ones wearing masks and the troops and police officers aren’t. But it will probably be a while, at least in some parts of the country.

This CNN story says Iraqi police sources claim only four to six Shiites were taken hostage, not the 60-120 that have been claimed previously. They also note that Iraqi forces entered the village while US helicopters covered them.

Then they go on to discuss American casualties elsewhere.

This Reuters story notes that the village is in an area called by some the “Triangle of Death”, sort of a little brother to the Sunni Triangle. A Marine friend of mine recently told me his buddy is stationed in the Triangle of Death. Why is it that Marines always end up in those sorts of places?

Meanwhile, Joel from No Pundit Intended noted in a comment the little place called “Madaiin” just up the road from “El Madain (Salman Pak)” on the Russian map I noted earlier. That is probably the place this is all happening at.

I had noted that little place initially, as did my friend who was checking my Russian translation. I ignored it. He wanted more info (which I didn’t have). The reason I used that Russian map is that it’s the only one I was able to find with that amount of detail. Another that was almost as detailed (and in English) showed Salman Pak as “Al Mandain” but doesn’t show the little Madaiin north of Salman Pak. In the end, it’s just as well that I used the Russian one, as it’s the only one I’ve seen that includes what’s apparently the location of this incident.

If anyone has a better map, feel free to pass it on. (And a big thanks to Joel for commenting and getting MO back on the right track.)