Another chlorine truck bomb found near Ramadi


The ninth attempted chlorine attack, 7 have been successful; Karma

Iraq. Click map to view.

Al Qaeda in Iraq continues its dirty chemical war in Anbar province. Another truck packed with explosives and chlorine cannisters was found and disarmed in Ramadi. U.S. troops from Multinational Forces West responded to the suicide bombing attack north of Ramadi, which killed one Iraqi and wounded seven. Coalition troops cordoned the area, when "local citizens provided information about a second truck bomb that may be in the area," according to the Multinational Forces West press release. "Acting on the tip, a search was conducted and an abandoned truck was found wired with explosives and chlorine tanks."

Al Qaeda in Iraq has conducted five successful suicide chlorine gas attacks in Anbar province since January, as well as attacks in Taji and Baghdad. Thirty-two Iraqis were killed over 600 were poisoned by the chlorine gas strikes. On March 24, a truck filled with chlorine tanks, explosives and 55 gallon drums was discovered outside a police station in Ramadi. The driver was captured before he could detonate the explosives.

On January 28, 16 were killed in the first such attack in Ramadi. On February 19, al Qaeda struck again in Ramadi, killing two members of the Iraqi security force and wounding 16. On March 17, al Qaeda hit with a three pronged attack in Ramadi, Fallujah and Amiriya. Two were killed and over 360 were poisoned in the aftermath of the attacks.

The Taji and Baghdad chlorine attacks were particularly effective. On February 20, five were killed and 140 sickened after a chlorine attack in Baghdad. On February 21, a chlorine attack in Taji killed 9 and made 150 sick.

Al Qaeda in Iraq, through its political mouthpiece the Islamic State of Iraq, has issued a denial of its involvement with chlorine suicide attacks. However the targets of the chlorine attacks, particularly in Anbar province, have been aimed at members and supporters of the Anbar Salvation Council, which is a grouping of Sunni tribes and former insurgents, including large factions of the 1920s Revolution Brigades and the Islamic Army in Iraq.

Two chlorine bomb factories were discovered in Karma and Fallujah by Coalition forces on February 21. Karma has become an al Qaeda hot spot, and was the scene of the downing of a Marine CH-46 transport helicopter, which al Qaeda in Iraq claimed credit. U.S. forces just completed a 4 day operation in Karma, which resulted in 2 insurgents killed and 10 captured. An American military source informs us the number so killed and captured will rise. U.S. forces also found and destroyed a cache "consisting of five DShK anti-aircraft heavy machine guns, 12 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, homemade rocket launchers, mortar tubes, 57mm rockets, improvised explosive devices, and multiple wired propane tanks." On March 26, U.S. soldiers beat off a suicide and ground attack on a post just north of Karma. Thirty al Qaeda attacked after two two suicide truck bombs were employed. Fifteen al Qaeda were killed in the assault.



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READER COMMENTS: "Another chlorine truck bomb found near Ramadi"

Posted by crosspatch at March 27, 2007 6:32 PM ET:

Just saw this on Fox:

BAGHDAD - A military leader of the 1920 Revolution Brigades, a major Sunni Arab insurgent group, was killed Tuesday in an ambush west of Baghdad, the group said in an Internet statement.

Harith Dhaher al-Dhari died when gunmen fired rocket propelled grenades on his car in the Abu Ghraib district, according to a district official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared reprisals.

The official said a passenger traveling with al-Dhari also was killed as well as another associate in a second car traveling behind. He blamed Al Qaeda in Iraq for the attack, but did not say how he arrived at that conclusion.

The group, in a statement posted on the Internet said: "The 1920 Brigades mourns its martyr, the brave leader Harith Dhaher Khamis al-Dhari who fell today, his honorable blood spilled on the battlefield of his jihad (holy struggle) in Abu Ghraib."

The authenticity of the brief statement could not be verified but it appeared on a site that routinely publishes militant literature.

...

Posted by ECH at March 27, 2007 7:14 PM ET:

General McCaffrey issued a pretty gloomy report on the state of Iraqi security forces.
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The Iraqi security forces are in poor shape, according to McCaffrey. "The police force is feared as a Shia militia in uniform which is responsible for thousands of extra-judicial killings," he writes. "The Iraqi Army is too small [and] very badly equipped." The army "is also unduly dominated by the Shia, and in many battalions lacks discipline," writes McCaffrey, adding that the high rates of desertion and absence without leave "frequently leave Iraqi army battalions at 50 percent strength or less."

In contrast, the number of insurgent and sectarian militia forces likely exceeds 100,000, McCaffrey writes. "These non-government armed bands are in some ways more capable of independent operations than the regularly constituted" Iraq security forces, he adds.

http://www.armytimes.com/news/2007/03/military_Iraq_McCaffrey_070327/

Posted by ECH at March 27, 2007 7:15 PM ET:

General McCaffrey issued a pretty gloomy report on the state of Iraqi security forces.
---

The Iraqi security forces are in poor shape, according to McCaffrey. "The police force is feared as a Shia militia in uniform which is responsible for thousands of extra-judicial killings," he writes. "The Iraqi Army is too small [and] very badly equipped." The army "is also unduly dominated by the Shia, and in many battalions lacks discipline," writes McCaffrey, adding that the high rates of desertion and absence without leave "frequently leave Iraqi army battalions at 50 percent strength or less."

In contrast, the number of insurgent and sectarian militia forces likely exceeds 100,000, McCaffrey writes. "These non-government armed bands are in some ways more capable of independent operations than the regularly constituted" Iraq security forces, he adds.

http://www.armytimes.com/news/2007/03/military_Iraq_McCaffrey_070327/

Posted by Mike E at March 27, 2007 7:42 PM ET:

Isnt McCaffery the retired anti Bush General?

Posted by Michael at March 27, 2007 7:43 PM ET:

If you read his entire assessment he says that the plan in baghdad is working. Also correct me if I'm wrong but how many of 100,000 which include sectarian militia are fighting right now? In addition, how many elements of the insurgency are fighting al qaeda?

Posted by crosspatch at March 27, 2007 8:21 PM ET:

Allahpundit over at Hot Air has put together several different reports to give a picture of what could be a fundamental split in at least one of the tribes.

One of the more interesting bits:

What we have here, in all likelihood, is the terrorism equivalent of one mafia family whacking the leader of another for cooperating with the police. Which seems shockingly stupid given that we're planning a major offensive against AQ in Diyala, where the 1920 Brigades operate and where intel from their informants will be very valuable.

And the plot gets thicker still. According to Reuters, Thahir al-Dari is the leader of the al-Zobaie tribe - the same tribe to which Salam al-Zubaie, the Sunni deputy prime minister of Iraq, belongs. Al-Zubaie was himself seriously wounded in an assassination attempt earlier this week which Iraqi sources believe was an inside job perpetrated by a relative. That makes sense now: it sounds like the family is split between pro- and anti-jihadist factions led by Uncle Harith and Thahir, respectively, and Salam happened to pick his security detail from the wrong side.

Posted by DJ Elliott at March 27, 2007 9:00 PM ET:

ECH:

1. He is including Peshmerga in that total. Are they a threat to US? Didn't the GoI formaly recognize them as an internal security force of the KRG in Jan? That means they are no longer considered a "Militia" since they are now an operational element of the ISF in the north. (25-35% of the IA is former-peshmerga; hard to get refined numbers on this; they have goo OPSEC.)

2. He is using old data on leave and AWOL rates. New Military Laws were passed in Feb that provides for disiplinary actions. The last 7 Battalions to deploy to Baghdad were 95-103% manned. The only place in the IA that manning is in the 50-60% range is western Anbar's 7th IA Div which is not in-lead, has none of its Brigades in-lead, has command problems and is the greenest of the IA Divisions...

3. He is a retired General that works regularly for CNN. He is political. Always add those filters in when using someones data. It will skew them.

Posted by Neo-andertal at March 27, 2007 10:00 PM ET:

I don't question McCaffrey's competence or motives. I might note however that he isn't "in the loop" as far as command decisions or information about what is going on in Iraq. I've heard his opinions a number of times and my impression is his presentations seem to be prepared for him by the media people. I suspect that much of his information is also supplied by media and hired professional political briefers. I'm sure he signs off on it, but his presentation aren't briefing quality and seem to stay to the same set of facts the other news presenters are using. In other words he's always a bit sketchy, a little too vague, and often behind by about 4 to 6 months.

I count myself fortunate that Bill, DJ, and others can dig up and process so much information. This place is a one of a kind public source of information. Put it together with a few other sources inside and outside Iraq and you can get a fairly good idea of what is going on. Although as a civilian I do tend to be a little dense about the full significance of some of the unit information and capabilities.

I used to dig through thousands of articles for information on what was going on myself, but it became a compulsive habit I had to break. Too much work, too little payoff.

Posted by ECH at March 27, 2007 10:23 PM ET:

Isnt McCaffery the retired anti Bush General?
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The President consulted with McCaffery at least twice in the past year on what to do in Iraq.

In fact McCaffery went to Iraq with the sole purpose of preparing a report for the WH and generals. He said on TV tonight that the Iraqi Army suffered from exactly the same deficits as on his trip last year, first and foremost a extreme lack of equipment for the Iraqi Army. Here is what he said then.

"The Iraqi Army is real, growing, and willing to fight. They now have lead action of a huge and rapidlyexpanding area and population. The battalion level formations are in many cases excellent - most are adequate. However, they are very badly equipped with only a few light vehicles, small arms, most with body armor and one or two uniforms. They have almost no mortars, heavy machine guns, decent communications equipment, artillery, armor, or IAF air transport, helicopter, and strike support."

http://tinyurl.com/mnr9t

Posted by RTLM at March 27, 2007 10:33 PM ET:

Where are the factories getting the chemicals to make chlorine?

Posted by ECH at March 27, 2007 10:37 PM ET:

Another interesting thing McCaffery said last month was that he believes the Pentagon has been deliberately and significantly under equipping the Iraqi Army out of fear that doing so would be simply backing one side of a civil war and giving them the weapons to crush the other side. He said something to the effect that the Pentagon was scared to death if they really armed the Iraqi Army they would do to the Sunnis what the Iraqi Army under Saddam did to the Shia.

Posted by anand at March 27, 2007 10:57 PM ET:

DJ,

Gen. McCaffery seems pretty balanced. He believes that the sitution in Iraq has improved significantly since Gen. Petraeus has taken over:

http://www.armytimes.com/news/2007/03/military_Iraq_McCaffrey_070327/

"Since the arrival of Gen. David Petraeus in command of Multi-National Force - Iraq - the situation on the ground has clearly and measurably improved," he writes.

The Maliki government has "given the green light" for U.S. and Iraqi special operations forces to "prune out" elements of Shia politician Moqtada al-Sadr's militia, the Mahdi army, McCaffrey says. As a result, U.S. and Iraqi forces have "harvested" over 600 "rogue leaders" from the Mahdi army, while "Sadr himself has fled to Iran and many of his key leaders have escaped to the safety of the Shia south. "His fighting cadres were ordered to go to ground, hide their weapons, take down their check points, stop the terrible ethnic cleansing and terror tactics against the Sunni population, and ignore (not cooperate with) US and ISF forces."

The new U.S. and Iraqi strategy of establishing joint security stations across Baghdad is working, according to McCaffrey. "The Iraqi people are encouraged - life is almost immediately springing back in many parts of the city," he writes. "The murder rate has plummeted. IED [improvised explosive device] attacks on U.S. forces during their formerly vulnerable daily transits from huge U.S. bases on the periphery of Baghdad are down - since these forces are now permanently based in their operational area."

In addition, the Iraq government has "finally committed credible numbers of integrated police and army units to the battle of Baghdad," McCaffrey says. Those forces are also "showing increased willingness to aggressively operate against insurgent/militia forces."

In Anbar province, "[t]here is a real and growing groundswell of Sunni tribal opposition to the Al Qaeda in Iraq terror formations," he writes. "This counter-Al Qaeda movementΒ…was fostered by brilliant U.S. Marine leadership." The result is an ongoing fight between the western Sunni tribes and Al Qaeda in Iraq. "This is a crucial struggle and it is going our way - for now," McCaffrey says.

Posted by Neo-andertal at March 27, 2007 11:09 PM ET:

ECH,

Careful that you don't put words into Gen. McCaffery mouth. It appears that I am criticizing the wrong person here.

That document you sent was a pretty fair assessment of things. It was hardly gloomy, and notes both the chronic problems and that much progress has been made. He did not characterize the Iraqi security forces as being in poor shape. The Iraqi Police forces are in poor shape, yes, as you quoted. Everyone is agreed on that. We have also discussed before that the equipping of the Iraqi forces is going much more slowly than it should. Please remember that they need to be trained on the heavy equipment too. Giving them heavy equipment without the corresponding level of training may not be advisable either. They have to go together or not at all.

And by the way the document is OLD, OLD, OLD: April 25, 2006.


Sorry, I opened my mouth about the General before reading all of the source document.

Posted by ECH at March 27, 2007 11:14 PM ET:

anand,

McCaffrey is certainly no political hatchet man. He says what he believes, that doesn't make him necessarily right of course. But, he makes some pretty interesting points. Like he said on his last trip to Iraq to measure the growth of the Iraqi Army that he found the Iraqi soldiers very motivated and determined, but equipped so poorly they had to pool their money to buy weapons on the blackmarket to simply get to near the level of weaponry the insurgents had.

Posted by ECH at March 27, 2007 11:19 PM ET:

Neo-andertal,

As I said that letter was from last year, McCaffery made the point from his current trip to Iraq that while equipment is slowly trickling in that most of the Iraq Army was in the state he saw last year with soldiers riding around in pick-up trucks. One of the Iraqi units he saw now has loaner humvees from the US, but other then that he said the equipment sitution wasn't much different for the units he went out with.

Posted by Neo-andertal at March 27, 2007 11:42 PM ET:

By the way,


The New York Times article in the sidebar "U.S. Long Worried That Iran Supplied Arms in Iraq" is excellent.


Read it, don't skim it!

Posted by DJ Elliott at March 28, 2007 12:15 AM ET:

ECH:

First you crawl, then you walk.

- Part of equipping the IA as a Motor-Infantry force is in the FY07sup/FY08 Budget requests. If you want them to get their equipment faster: Talk to congress.
- Target objectives for IA were exceeded by 6 Bns at end-2006 (112 planned/118 actual).
- IP/INP were (and are) identified problems that are in-progress of being corrected. The Quicklook program is in phase II/III for the INP and in phase I for IP/DBE.
- It has been less than 10 months since the new-MOI allowed embeds. A year ago the INP was almost all Shia lead (only 1 Bde and 2 Bn Cmdrs sunni). Now almost half of the INP is sunni commanded. Major purges. In the last 6 months the MOI has fired two Div commanders, 4 Bde commanders and 8 Bn commanders. Over 10,000 MOI personnel removed or arrested since May...
- 4000 wheeled APCs are being purchased by Iraqi MOD. Plus 400 Tracked. 1/3rd of the IA will be in armored vehicles by end-2007, just on what is already scheduled for delivery.

The RETIRED General is a paid commentator. He is not in the military loop. His comments are significantly out of date.

Ground truth changes fast in wartime. Sometimes hourly.
Old quotes are meaningless to current ops.
Obsolete data.
GIGO.
(Especially when you are looking at over a Bde's worth of motor/mech equipment upgrade per month.)

Posted by DJ Elliott at March 28, 2007 12:28 AM ET:

Anand:

McCaffery is old school conventional.
Level the city to save the city.
Mass troops vice high tech.
He would have asked for full mobilization and 1 million troops to take Iraq by his own pre-war statements.

Those are not (and never were) viable options.

He has the advantage of being in a job that allows him to offer opinions without being required to act on those same opinions.

His current job is a media consultant. Not a commander of troops...

(I do like that he did not bother to correct the id10t from CNN that keep saying he was embedded with 7th Cav Division. I still wonder who finaly quit laughing at that reporter long enough to tell him who he realy was with. Two days later. 1st Bn-7th Cav Rgt/3rd Bde-3rd Inf Div. The US has never had a 7th Cav Div...)

Posted by Feocito at March 28, 2007 9:03 AM ET:

Trust me, McCaffrey is in the loop. He's a professor at West Point, which gives him access to untold military information. Plus, he's is well-linked into multiple "old boy" nets. The you have the well intentioned staff officers who leak him information for self-aggrandizement. Accurate information is not a problem.

Some of you may recall that McCaffrey was the LTG who was "dissed" in the early Clinton White House before they got enough grownups in there to get things under control.