Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Major sweep in Iraq; 600 Shiite militia arrested

The big news in Iraq today is a Baghdad sweep that has netted 600 Shiite militia belonging to Moqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army.

The US military said in a statement released yesterday that the operations were carried out by combined Iraqi and US troops, and that they had arrested over 600 Mahdi Army militiamen, including 16 of their senior leaders, in and near Baghdad's Sadr City, the Mahdi Army's stronghold.

"The detainees are responsible for attacks against the Government of Iraq, Iraqi citizens and coalition forces," the US military statement said.

"Criminal activities by these individuals propagated instability within Iraq and their removal from the social structure is a critical start to providing the Iraqi populace with a safe and stable environment."

In addition, the US moved against the Sunnis in Baghdad, capturing what the military US military statement referred to as 33 cell leaders. They are "responsible for foreign fighter facilitation, car bomb facilitation and propaganda operations," it said.

In addition, U.S. helicopters blasted a lakeshore hideout north of Baghdad on Tuesday, killing seven gunmen, after several fled there by boat to escape pursuing U.S. troops, the U.S. military said.

The air strike took place during a raid targeting "foreign terrorist facilitators" (AKA `Sunnis') northwest of Haditha in the Anbar province, the heart of the Sunni insurgency.

the U.S. military said in a statement that two terrorists were killed and six others arrested in the initial raid. Three escaped by boat on nearby Lake Qadisiya to a tent encampment on a small peninsula where they were met by four more men, also armed.

"Coalition Forces engaged the enemy force with rotary wing aircraft killing seven terrorists. Several weapons including grenades, machine guns and pistols were found in the tents," the statement said.

Altogether, the US reported that a total of 16 terrorist were killed in raids in the Baghdad and Anbar today.

It's significant to me that the overwhelming number of arrests of the Shiite militiamen in the Mahdi Army took place with the men going quietly, while the Sunnis fought their attackers. Could the fix be in? Did Maliki make an arrangement with al Sadr and the Mahdi Army for temporary cosmetic `arrests' followed by a quick release and business as usual?

That would certainly work out well politically for both Maliki and President Bush if it were true - both of whom would be perceived as `doing something.'

An additional sign of this will be whether Bush mentions the crackdown in his State of the Union speech tonight.

Only time will tell...but something doesn't feel right, when the Mahdi Army allows itself to be arrested and quietly carted off in this way.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

harrison needs to post his catch and release comment again.

my comment would be that none of these should have been taken alive.

ff has previously said something about somebody rotting in hell. this would be a good place to start.