Three forrays into Sadr City over the past four days
Iraqi special forces (from the 1st Special Operations Forces Brigade), accompanied by U.S. Special Forces advisors and backed by Coalition air support, raided a location in Sadr City, the Baghdad stronghold of Iranian backed cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The raid netted seven members of an ” an illegal armed group kidnapping and murder cell,” including the cell leader. “The person detained is reported to have first-hand knowledge of the control and movement of [Specialist] Ahmed Al Taie, the [American] Soldier who was abducted Oct. 23,” reports Multinational Forces Iraq.
Sadr’s militia fought back and hit the Iraqi soldiers with “small-arms and rocket propelled grenade fire.” Circling Coalition aircraft were fired upon as well, and struck back with “precision fires at identified enemy targets.” No Iraqi or U.S. casualties were taken, and the MNF-Iraq was unable to determine if civilians were killed or wounded. Baghdad police claim 3 civilians were killed, including a 6 month old boy, and a Sadr parliamentarian was seen on television holding a dead child. Sadr’s Mahdi Army has been known to manipulate media images for propaganda purchases, such as falsely claiming a raid on a husseiniya in Sadr City last March killed civilians.
This is the third raid by Iraqi special forces in Sadr City over the past four days. On November 20th, Iraqi SOF units entered Sadr City in search of a 30 man “illegal armed group responsible for kidnapping, torturing and murdering Iraqi civilians and soldiers.” On November 18th, Iraqi soldiers visited Sadr City “after intelligence indicated that an armed group was holding some of the scores of Iraqis who were snatched from a Higher Education Ministry office building in Baghdad.” In both raids, Iraqi and Coalition forces were fired upon, and no suspects were detained.
Muqtada al-Sadr has been curiously silent on the recent series of raids in Sadr City. Sadr’s silence on these raids will cost him politically in the extremist Shia circles, and will weaken him within the ranks of the Mahdi Army. Rumors that Sadr has lost control of large swaths of his militia remain just that, rumor. Intelligence and military sources inform us that Sadr is still very much in control of the Mahdi Army. The raids inside Sadr City and against the Mahdi Army elsewhere will not abate anytime soon.
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