UPDATE 2: Into Madaen

Iraqi forces seal off town after hostage reports

(Still the same link as previously. Totally different content. And they claim blogs have a lack of accountability.)

The link on the MSNBC.com front page now reads Iraq hostage crisis exaggerated?. As noted previously, the number of hostages supposedly taken has varied widely over the course of this incident.

Iraq’s most influential Shiite Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, urged government officials to resolve the crisis peacefully, his office said.

By the end of the day, however, Iraqi officials had produced no hostages and Iraqi military officials who had given information about the troubles in Madain could not be reached for further details.

There were reports earlier of some families evacuated by Iraqi forces, and that five terrorists had been captured after a brief gun battle.

I now expect that this will be online tomorrow (probably under the same URL) as an example of political maneuvering and that it wasn’t nearly as bad as some made it out to be. How that will square with “quagmire” talk, I’m not sure.

Hopefully, this wasn’t nearly as bad as initially reported. But there will be those who claim that, if it wasn’t, it’s some sort of PR disaster for the new Iraqi government or the US military or George Bush or something.