US patrols in Baquba were yesterday faced with a dilemma: to shoot or not. Civilians, particularly innocent children were being shoved in front of their guns to shield insurgents. These insurgents are tactically pulling on the hurt strings of US troops.
Knowing that by not shooting the Americans are putting themselves and their Iraqi colleagues at risk. But by shooting they would risk killing civilians, which although it may sometimes not seem it, is not the aim if their war.
They opened fire. Inconceivably three bodies fell to the floor, but they were they bodies of men.
This is the horrible reality of a brutal and unconventional war in Iraq's north - where Jihad fighters use human shields and force children to run weapons for them. Even if the children are not killed their minds will be scarred by the sights they are forced to witness and their minds indoctrinated by the forceful words of terrorists.
Peter Beaumont, reporting for The Guardian from Baquba, warns: "The stuipid insurgents, and the ones who were to brave, are dead after three years of resistance. Those who are left are battle hardened and have adapted their tactics to fight most effectively against the US military."