Another chlorine gas attack in Baghdad; Update: Much ado about nothing?

Third time’s a charm, kids. The NYT’s on the case now, replete with provocative terminology.

For the third time in a month, insurgents deployed a new and deadly tactic against Iraqi civilians today: A dirty bomb combining explosives with poisonous chlorine gas.

A pickup truck carrying canisters of the gas, which burns the skin and can be fatal after only a few concentrated breaths, exploded near a diesel-fuel station in southwestern Baghdad, killing at least 5 people and sending another 75 to hospitals, wheezing and coughing, for treatment, Interior Ministry and medical officials said…

The attacks had the potential to be much deadlier, but seem to have been poorly executed, burning much of the chemical agent rather than spreading it. Still, Iraqi and American officials condemned the attacks as an effort to bring a new level of fear and havoc to Iraq as a new security plan for Baghdad takes shape.

This one struck in outer Baghdad, as did yesterday’s. We’re pushing them out of the city, although where they head to from there is anyone’s guess. The security situation in Basra should be somewhat more hospitable to Shiite militias in the coming months notwithstanding Cheney’s comments to the contrary, but the perps here were likely Sunni so it’s off to Anbar they’ll go.

As for the “inner city,” Captain Ed thinks we’re going in. If Sadr’s going to play pretend pacifist, why not?

Update: Noah Schachtman’s new blog, Danger Room, claims this is little more than psy ops: the gas isn’t any more lethal, really, than your average car bomb, but it plays well in the media and, er, blogs.