Iraq Report: Mahdi Army remains a target
While the big story on Iraq actually occurred in Washington with the release of the Initial Benchmark Assessment Report, which assessed the progress of the Iraqi government as the Baghdad Security Plan progresses, Iraqi and U.S. security forces pressed al Qaeda and the Mahdi Army on all fronts.
U.S. and Iraqi security forces continue the daily raids and operations designed to degrade the Mahdi Army. A two day operation in Diwaniyah in the south resulted in eight Mahdi Army fighters killed, four captured and 30 wounded. In Baghdad, Coalition forces captured two members of "the Special Groups affiliated with Jaysh al-Mahdi" and Iran.
"Coalition Forces conducted the raid to capture or kill terrorists who allegedly specialize in kidnapping, killing and building and placing improvised explosive devices," Multinational Forces Iraq reported. "Intelligence reports indicate that the suspected terrorists targeted during the raid are associated with key leaders in the secret cell terrorist network and have ties to Iranian terrorists groups."
Disruption and clearing operation are still underway in the Rashid district, arguably one of the most dangerous districts in Baghdad. U.S. forces captured 101 insurgents, including al Qaeda and Mahdi Army members, and found 237 weapons caches during a ten-day operation. In a separate operation in Rashid, U.S. soldiers captured 31 suspected al Qaeda fighters during a raid on a meeting.
In Diyala, Iraqi Army and Police captured 10 suspects believed to be "responsible for providing a safe haven to al-Qaeda in Iraq" in the city of Muqdadiyah. Iraqi forces also found IED materials and land mines. In Baqubah, tribal leaders from the Ubaidi and Anbakia tribes signed a peace agreement, which put an end to decades of feuds, and vowed to "stand together against al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations."
Iraqi security forces were on the offensive in the north, where al Qaeda and its allies are attempting to regroup. Iraqi soldiers found a bomb factory in Mosul, and arrested 18 suspects and killed three others in a firefight. In Kirkuk, Iraqi police capture eight wanted suspects, and detained 32 suspected insurgents during a series of raids throughout the city.
Coalition and Iraqi forces maintain the effort to disrupt IED and mortar cells in northern Babil. U.S. troops captured the leader of a rocket and IED cell in Tunis on July 7. Another leader of a rocket and IED cell was captured in Iskandariyah on July 9. U.S. forces conducted an air assault in the Jurf As Sukr northwest of Iskandariyah. The targets were "members of an Al Qaeda cell wanted in connection with the kidnapping of three American Soldiers and other attacks against Iraqi and Coalition Forces." Two suspects were detained.
Al Qaeda's Network
Coalition forces captured 19 al Qaeda operatives and leadership targets during raids in Mosul, Balad and Baghdad. It is believed "the most active terrorist cell leader in Mosul" was captured during Thursday's raids.