Ansar al-Sunnah leaders captured, raid on al Qaeda in Iraq cell
DUBAI, UAE: Task Force 145, the Coalition hunter-killer teams that focus on al Qaeda in Iraq, have been busy over the past week. Multinational Forces Iraq reports Ansar al-Sunnah leadership has taken a hit in central, western and northern Iraq, while a raid nabbed 8 al Qaeda.
During raids in mid-November, Coaliton forces “captured the terrorist emirs [of Ansar al Sunnah in] Ramadi, Baqubah Tikrit, al Qa’im, Bayji and Baghdad. They also captured two terrorist facilitators, a courier, an explosives expert and a financier.” The capture and subsequent interrogations will yield further information on Ansar al-Sunnah’s network.
While Ansar al-Sunnah has not joined al Qaeda in Iraq’s Mujahideen Shura, the two groups work closely in many instances, and share the same ideology. Ansar al-Sunnah declined joining with al Qaeda in Iraq over leadership disputes and major disagreements with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, according to an American intelligence source.
On November 29th, Coalition forces struck al Qaeda in Baqubah /a>. Eight al Qaeda in Iraq were killed during a raid on “a known terrorist cell.” This is very likely a Task Force 145 operation. Multinational Forces Iraq reports the fighting was heavy. “At the objective, Coalition Forces received enemy rifle and machine gun fire. Due to the heavy volume of enemy fire, Coalition Forces also engaged the terrorists with aircraft.” Two women were killed during the raid.
Recently, Major General Bill Caldwell noted that over 7,000 al Qaeda in Iraq have been killed or captured over the past two years. Abu Ayyub al-Masri noted that over 4,000 have been killed since 2003.
The next day, Coalition forces struck at ‘insurgents’ in Samarra. Fourteen insurgents were killed and two captured, after they engaged a Coalition convoy. While the insurgents fled in trucks and motorcycles, Task Force Lightning attack helicopters tracked them for several miles and used two guided bombs to destroy one of the vehicles. Subsequently, helicopters and strike aircraft engaged the remaining vehicles, killing or wounding all of the insurgents,” according to the MNF-Iraq press release. No Coalition casualties were reported in any of the three operations.
The Baqubah ighting comes amidst press reports that the city has been “shut down” and under the control of insurgents. Colonel David W. Sutherland, the commander of 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, and the senior coalition Force commander for the Diyala province, vigorously disputes the claim.
“The Government Center is open, and most of the ministries are present for work as are the city workers, the health care providers, and ambulances… The Mosques are open, and the market in Baqubah as seen a rise in business as fresh fruits and vegetables are arriving and being sold daily. We also see construction projects progressing in the area, people going to the markets and walking the streets daily,” said Colonel Sutherland. Given the recent news that the Associated Press is uncritically quoting phony Iraqi police spokesmen and reproducing insurgent propaganda, we believe Colonel Sutherland.
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