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.