26 Iranian-Backed “Secret Cell” Operatives Killed, 17 Captured in Sadr City

Qods Force logo, click to view.

Major operations targets the Qazali Network

Multinational Forces Iraq is pressing on with operations against the Iranian-backed “Secret Cells” of the Qazali Network. Coalition forces conducted two major raids inside Sadr City against the Qazali Network early Saturday morning. After encountering heavy resistance during both operations, which included “significant small arms fire and multiple improvised explosive device (IED) attacks” and “attacks with rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs),” Coalition forces counterattacked with armored vehicles. Twenty-six Secret Cell members were killed and 17 captured.

This follows a raid inside Sadr City on June 29 against the same network. One member of the Qazali Network was captured during the operation. “Intelligence reports indicate that the suspected terrorist targeted during the raid is associated with key leaders in the secret cell terrorist network and has ties to Iran,” Multinational Forces Iraq reported in a press release. “It is also believed that the suspected terrorist is responsible for numerous attacks on Iraqi civilians as well as Iraqi and Coalition Forces in Baghdad. The individual is also suspected of recruiting Iraqis to fill the ranks of Iranian terror groups operating in Iraq.”

Also on June 29, one U.S. soldier was killed and three wounded in an explosively formed penetrator [EFP] attack in southern Baghdad. Iran has manufactured and supplied the EFPs used by Shia militias to kill Coalition and Iraqi forces in Iraq.

On June 28, Iraqi Special Operations Forces captured a leader of the “rogue Jaysh al-Mahdi” – or Mahdi Army – and five others during a raid in Nasiriyah. “The primary suspect is allegedly responsible for direct attacks on Coalition Forces, rocket attacks on Coalition bases and has been implicated in the kidnappings and murder of Iraqi citizens,” Multinational Forces Iraq reported. “It is also believed he provides financial support to weapons trafficking networks which supply rogue Jaysh Al-Mahdi units in the Baghdad area.”

For the past year, the U.S. has pursued a strategy to fragment Sadr’s Mahdi Army and co opt the “moderate” elements into the political process. The strategy has succeeded, and the Iranian-backed elements of the Mahdi Army – referred to as the “rogue Jaysh Al-Mahdi units” by Multinational Forces Iraq – cooperate closely with the Iranian-backed Qazali and Sheibani networks. Over the past month, U.S., British and Iraqi Security Forces have conducted multiple raids and major operations against these networks in Baghdad and southern Iraq.

Coalition and Iraqi forces have killed at least 91 members of the Secret Cell network and captured 112 since April 27, 2007. The operations against the Iranian-backed networks are just one part of the ongoing security operations inside Baghdad and the Belts. As Iraqi and Coalition forces are battling al Qaeda and clearing vast regions in and around the capitol in preparation to secure and hold the areas, the Iranian-backed cells have remained a primary target.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal.

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16 Comments

  • Bill, do you know if these Iranian linked cells are cooperating with Sunni groups and al Qaeda or working against them? Or are they doing a little bit of both?

  • Mass Grave Uncovered in Anbar

    No doubt the left will dismiss this as a result of our “occupation” of Iraq, after conveniently overlooking Saddam Hussein’s mass graves over the years.

  • hamidreza says:

    I am sure that among those arrested are many Iranians. Why is it that they are not put on Iraqi TV and paraded for the world to see?
    After all, there is a parallel media war going on.
    Same applies to al-Qaeda elements arrested who receive assistance from Qods to blow up shrines and kill Iraqi Shias.
    Is Petraeus oblivious to the media war?

  • Anti-Herman says:

    Bill/DJ
    If you used Jan 2006 as a base, how much Madhi is still in existence, has joined the process, and who are still rouge?
    They should be pretty fragmented.

  • mary g says:

    wow – thanks from a soldier’s mom

  • Neo says:

    Hamidreza,
    Iranian or not, I do believe parading prisoners on TV is against the Geneva convention. Believe it or not we almost always do adhere to the Geneva convention (some specifics may be debatable especially concerning the confinement of irregular combatants). These guys aren’t typical POW’s but Petraeus isn’t going to push the point under present circumstances. He has quite enough on his plate already and doesn’t need to add a political flap.

  • http://instapundit.com/archives2/006770.php

    GOING AFTER the Iranian cells in Baghdad. Some background here….

  • C-Low says:

    Neo
    The Geneva Conventions only apply to uniformed Soldiers. Terrorist, Insurgents, Sabatuers whatever are not uniformed soldiers and therefore are not protected. A good president is the many German SS who were captured in US uniforms during the Battle of the Buldge moving signs and running ops behind US lines, they were tied to trees and shot on sight.
    Besides it really wouldn’t be US place to put these guys on TV rather it would be better squeeze them for intel then give them to the Iraqi’s for the parade on TV. The Iraqi Wolf Brigade have been doing such with captures since I believe 05′.

  • hamidreza says:

    Neo, the point is not that to violate humanitarian concerns. The point is that empirical facts comes ahead of other concerns. There are many effective ways to expose Iranian agency in Iraq.
    Gruntman, there has been reports that Iranians have been captured by the coalition forces in battle areas. They are probably of high ranks. Besides any Iraqi interpreter can easily tell if the guy is Iranian or Iraqi.
    In my personal experience the vast majority of these so-called secret cells are local populace fighting for tribe or sect against what they see as the “american invader”.
    The Mahdis and ALQs are not fighting the Americans for the liberation of their country. You are mistaken. In fact they are targetting and killing Iraqis hundreds a day. Mahdi and ALQ wish to rule and take over the state. They have repeatedly proclaimed this to be their agenda. It just happens that the US military stands between them and a grab for power and their rule by torture chambers. And fact is that 90% of Iraqis are now cooperating with the Americans because they have discovered that a pluralistic democracy is the only way to have security and build a country.

  • Mcgruder says:

    I thank you for the hard work; a truly valuable resource.
    question–I see you frequently quote MNF-I press releases. In your experience, and with respect, are they reliable? I ask because state-side, all PRs are incomplete, in a word.
    thank you again.
    Mcgruder.

  • GK says:

    Sadly, killing 20 of these people per month does not amount to a hill of beans.
    US Public support of the war is at an all-time low. None of these small military victories seem to be changing that.

  • Neo says:

    “Sadly, killing 20 of these people per month does not amount to a hill of beans.”

  • Neo says:

    C-Low said:
    ” The Geneva Conventions only apply to uniformed Soldiers. Terrorist, Insurgents, Sabatuers whatever are not uniformed soldiers and therefore are not protected”

  • Warren Bonesteel says:

    Here’s ABC’s version of the same -ahem – story.
    http://www.abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=3334166
    U.S. Raids Baghdad Slum; 26 Iraqis Die
    Iraqi Prime Minister Criticizes U.S. Raid That Leaves 26 Dead in Baghdad’s Sadr City
    Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki condemned a U.S. raid Saturday in Baghdad’s Shiite Sadr City slum a politically sensitive district for him in which American troops searching for Iranian-linked militants sparked a firefight the U.S. said left 26 Iraqis dead.
    The U.S. military said all those killed in the fighting were gunmen, some of them firing from behind civilian cars. But an Iraqi official put the death toll lower, at eight, and said they were civilians. Residents also said eight civilians were killed in their homes, angrily accusing American troops of firing wildly during the pre-dawn assault.
    /snip

  • ricburts says:

    It appears to me that the media war is what has brought the American publics support of this war to an all time low. Nowhere do I see the positive side of things unless I come here.
    This really saddens me as an American that we’re being fed an agenda rather than the truth.

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