Iraq Report: Courting the Tribes
The news from Operation Phantom Thunder has been largely subdued over the past 24 hours. The Iraqi government and the Coalition continue to encourage local participation in Salahadin and Diyala provinces. Al Qaeda conducted two successful car bomb attacks in Baiji and Baghdad. U.S. forces maintain the pressure on the Iranian-backed "Special Groups" cells, while Iraqi police skirmished with Muqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army in southern Iraq.
In Diyala and Salahadin provinces, Iraqi and Coalition forces continue to court the tribal leaders in an effort to gain their support in fighting al Qaeda and manning the security forces in the region. This is modeled after the successful Anbar Salvation Council in Anbar province. While the Diyala and Salahadin Salvation Councils have been formed, the organizations are still in their infancy.
In Baqubah, nine tribal leaders met with the city' mayor, the Diyala Operational Command and U.S. commanders. The Iraqi and U.S. military commanders "stressed the need to hire new Iraqi police officers from the Baqubah neighborhoods so the force would be representative of its people."
In the regions north and west of the city of Baghdad, in Baghdad and Salahadin provinces, "a grassroots effort by tribal leaders in Abu Ghraib, Taji, and Saab al Bor areas, to reject Al Qaeda and work to reconcile with the government of Iraq, Iraqi Security Forces and the Coalition, is aimed at putting an end to sectarian violence in those communities." Over 25 insurgents were detained by U.S. forces operating in this region in June with the help of the local council.
Further north in Baiji, al Qaeda killed six and wounded 17 in a car bomb attack on a police patrol. Most of those killed and wounded were civilians.
Inside the capital, al Qaeda struck with a car bomb aimed at a wedding party in the Shiite district of Abu Tchir. Seventeen were killed and over two dozen wounded, including the bride and groom.
Iraqi security forces said it captured 38 insurgents inside Baghdad over the past 24 hours. "The forces managed also to defuse two bombs, one in al-Mansour, western Baghdad, and another in al-Rasafa, central Baghdad, as well as confiscating large amount of weapons and ammunition in different areas of Baghdad," the Baghdad Operations Command reported.
Sadr and Iranian Cells
Coalition forces continue to target the Iranian-backed "Special Groups," formerly known as the "Secret Cells," with the explicit intent to either "capture or kill" them. Six cell mebers were captured and once killed during two separate raids in Baghdad's Sadr City. "The suspected terrorists targeted during the raid were connected with other key secret cell terrorist leaders and are suspected to have ties to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps - Quds Forces," Multinational Forces Iraq reported. The Iranian cells scored their own victory today. Two U.S soldiers were killed and two wounded during an explosive formed projectile [EFP] attack in southern Baghdad.
South of Baghdad in the city of Samawa, three were killed, including two Iraqi Police, after the police attempted to arrest a senior aide of Muqtada al Sadr. Eight were wounded in the gun battle.
Today's raids against al Qaeda's nationwide network resulted in nine operatives captured and one killed. The operations occurred in Baghdad, Tarmiyah, and west of Baghdad. Coalition forces netted the "administrative emir of a Baghdad neighborhood" who "is suspected of handling logistics and financing for terrorists cells in the area, and arranging for movement of operatives for the organization."