HUFFINGTON POST
12/27/2006 01:41 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Iraqi Troops Celebrate Najaf Handover By Eating Live Rabbit

Here's a graphic item you may have missed from Reuters or Fox News' Brit Hume: Following last Wednesday's ceremonious handover of Najaf, a province south of Baghdad and home to one of Shi'ite Islam's holiest shrines, from U.S. military to Iraq government control, a group of Iraqi soldiers celebrated the event, which signified the growing power of Iraq's security forces, by tearing apart a live rabbit. According to reports, Iraqi politicians, soldiers and tribal and religious leaders gathered to watch as troops put on displays of military prowess. One demonstration, described as a traditional "display of courage" by Reuters, involved five soldiers stopping in front of a grandstand to bite the heads off frogs. A sixth man then bit the heart out of a live rabbit and passed the carcass around to his comrades, each of whom took a bite. Hume noted that "chewing on live animals is a traditional display of ferocity for Iraqi elite troops," while Reuters pointed out that under Saddam Hussein's rule, Fedayeen militia carried out similar acts such as hunting foxes and then tearing them apart with their teeth. U.S. Major General Kurt Cichowski reportedly witnessed the display, and was quoted by Fox as saying, "our soldiers do a lot of things, but I've never seen them do anything like that."