Operations in a city where clashes occurred with Mahdi Army just one week ago
The Iraqi Army’s 3rd Brigade, 8th Division has conducted a large scale cordon and search operation in the city of Suwayra in Wasit province. During the operation, there were two separate engagements, both north of Suwayra, where “25 gunmen were killed and 18 others were arrested in separate incidents,” according to the Kuwaiti News Agency.
Ten ‘insurgents’ were killed and another 10 captured when the Army “stormed… an insurgents’ hideout in Al-Hufariyah,” and another 15 were killed 8 captured in the Shujairah region. A Multinational Forces Iraq press release confirmed the cordon and search operation, and noted a Polish helicopter was forced to land after taking fire from the ground. One Iraqi soldier and one unidentified Coalition soldier were injured.
Suwayra is the location of fighting between the Iraqi Army and the Mahdi Army just one week ago, after about 150 Mahdi militiamen attacked a police station in the city. Eight Mahdi fighters were killed during the engagement. While neither the Iraqi Army or MNF-Iraq identified the current ‘insurgents’ as Mahdi, the likelihood the operation was indeed directed at the Mahdi Army. Wasit province is largely Shiite, and the Sunni insurgency and al Qaeda have not been active in this region. If this is true, the Iraqi Army is continuing to erode Sadr’s support outside of Baghdad, and has given his Mahdi Army another lopsided defeat.
The Iraqi Army’s 3rd Brigade, 8th Division is ‘in the lead’ in Wasit province, one of the 30 of 36 Iraqi brigade designated in the lead. This designation means the unit plans and conducts its own missions, often from intelligence it gathers on its own, but still relies on Coalition forces for logistics, heavy weapons and air support, as needed.
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