Iraq Report: Bridges, Karma, Diyala and Sadr
Al Qaeda in Iraq was able to conduct three successful suicide attacks today. All three targets were bridges spanning major rivers--two were in the Shia region south of Baghdad, and one up north near Taji. Al Qaeda in Iraq attacked two bridges in Baghdad in April, and destroyed one of them. Also, al Qaeda in Iraq, through its political front the Islamic State of Iraq, released a video of the execution of nine Iraqi police and soldiers. The men were shot in the head.
In the embattled town of Karma, U.S. forces killed "an estimated 10 to 14 terrorists" after discovering them test firing anti-aircraft weapons. A truck with anti-aircraft weapons mounted in the bed was destroyed; along with two other vehicles (you can watch the video here). Coalition forces also killed four terrorists and captured nine during raids targeting car bomb cells in Baghdad, Taji, and Mosul.
Diyala continues to remain the hottest battleground in Iraq. One U.S. soldier was killed and nine wounded "from an explosion while conducting combat operations in Diyala province, Thursday." Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, the Commander of Multnational Division North and the 25th Infantry Division, briefed on Diyala this afternoon, and stated "I do not have enough soldiers right now in Diyala province to get that security situation moving... We have plans to put additional forces in that area."
"In Diyala province, we are working in a combined effort with Iraqi security forces to achieve tactical parity," said Maj. Gen. Mixon. "The tactical situation there is very difficult, and the fight is ongoing. Across MND North, we'll continue to work to improve Iraqi security forces, and they will become more capable, and we will work with the police units until they are fully established and capable of providing for their own security."
On the 'where's Muqtada al Sadr' front, David Satterfield, the senior adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Iraq, stated that the U.S. is certain Sadr is currently in Iran. "We know he's out of the country, we don't think," Satterfield told the Associated Press. "He's in Iran, which is where he has been since mid-January." Yesterday the Sadrist bloc pulled off a propaganda stunt by claiming it had passed a bill requiring U.S. forces to halt their buildup and forcing the government to seek parliamentary approval for the extension of the UN mission in Iraq. It turns out the Kurdish block was deceived on the legislation, and the bill was only a draft.
While searching for a weapons cache, soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army and members of the 3rd "Grey Wolf" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, travel through palm groves in the city of Hadid, Iraq, April 21, 2007.
U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ryan Stroud.