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Daily Iraq Report for March 17, 2007

The past 24 hours has seen three major developments: a triple chemical attack in Anbar province, Sadr called for resistance to the U.S. in Sadr City, and the implementation of the security plan in Diyala. There have been no major terror attacks inside Baghdad over the past day, and the sectarian violence still remains under control.

Al Qaeda in Iraq has stepped up its campaign to destroy the tribal leaders of the Anbar Salvation Council in western Iraq. Al Qaeda conducted a triple chlorine gas suicide attack in Amiriya, Fallujah and Ramadi Two were killed and over 360 were poisoned in the ensuing gas clouds. The attacks in Fallujah and Amiriya were clearly aimed at leaders of the Anbar Salvation Council, while the Ramadi attack was stopped at a police checkpoint.

During Friday prayers, one of Sadr's clerics read a statement urging the people of Sadr City to oppose the U.S. presence inside the neighborhood. "I trust that you have taken them as your enemies, for the enemies of God are your enemies, inevitably... unity against your enemy and shout 'No, No, America! No, No Israel!, No, No Satan!'" A couple of thousand Sadr supporters demonstrated in the streets afterwards. This comes after negotiations with the Coalition and elements in the Mahdi Army pick up steam. Today, police in Hillah arrested 44 members of Sadr's Mahdi Army after an attack on a police patrol. Hillah has been placed under curfew to prevent protests in support of Sadr.

In Diyala, Iraqi sources are leaking that a Diyala operation is now underway, and will consist U.S. forces backed by Iraqi Army and police. "The deployment will happen with the imposition of inspection points, and running a number of joint patrols between the Iraqi forces and the multinational forces, alongside raiding and inspection operations in the areas that have seen security tensions, in Ba'quba and the districts around it," an anonymous Iraqi source told the Associated Press. The tribes are now organizing and fighting against al Qaeda in Diyala. "A tribal source in Muqdadiya said to Aswat al-Iraq, that the tribes have begun to pursue armed groups that have made transgressions on many of the sons of Muqdadiya," notes IraqSlogger.

On the security front, on March 16, Coalition forces (read Task force 145) captured 17 al Qaeda during raids in Yusifiyah, Mosul, and Baghdad, while 2 IED planters were killed in Mirad as Suki. On March 17, Coalition forces captured 18 al Qaeda in raids in Balad and Fallujah.

Finally, IraqSlogger notes a welcome development on the Information Warfare front. Multinational Forces Iraq has created a YouTube channel and is uploading dozens of videos daily. "In this combat zone, the US's belated surge is working, burying insurgent and terrorists video under an avalanche of US military-shot video, with recent Iraq-focused US military posts on LiveLeak outnumbering insurgent and terrorists posts by at least a 10-1 margin," reports IraqSlogger

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