1920s Revolution Brigades turns on al Qaeda in Diyala

Group is aligned to the the Anbar Salvation Council; developments in the Diyala Campaign


The 1920s Revolution Brigades.

As the U.S. and Iraqi forces gear up to conduct a push into Diyala province, the heart of al Qaeda’s stronghold in Iraq, a prominent Sunni insurgent group has turned on the terror group in the city of Buhriz. CNN reported the 1920s Revolution Brigade has battled with al Qaeda in the city and driven them out. The 1920s Revolution Brigade and the U.S. have come to an agreement that the armed groups will stay off the streets in the daylight, while the U.S. Army is coordinating activities, establishing the Sunni insurgents as local police forces and providing equipment such as radios.

The 1920s Revolution Brigades is considered the “nationalist element” of the Sunni insurgency, largely made up of members of Saddam’s disbanded army and tribesmen. The Buhriz group turned on al Qaeda in April, after the group terrorized the local population. “[Al Qaeda] ruled Buhirz with tyranny, they really harmed our town,” a member of the Sunni insurgent group told CNN. “We had to stop them, and they left, no return.”

“Before, when al Qaeda was here, it was all killing and stealing,” another insurgent said. “We would hide in our house this time of day [during daylight]. It was all kidnapping, killing and stealing.”

Al Qaeda followed the same pattern of behavior in Anbar province, which led to the formation of the Anbar Salvation Council, the grouping of tribes and insurgents which battle al Qaeda. The 1920s Revolution Brigades makes up a significant portion of the leadership of the Anbar Salvation Council. Recently, the Anbar Salvation Council has sent expeditionary units into Salahadin, Diyala, Babil and Baghdad provinces to organize local Awakening movements and fight al Qaeda.

While it hasn’t been stated in either the CNN report or by military officials, the likelihood is the Anbar Salvation Council, through its ties in the 1920s Revolution Brigades, helped organize the anti al Qaeda resistance in Buhriz.

A Diyala Awakening movement formed in early May, but the group is still in its infancy. USA Today recently noted the U.S. Army has “seen a much greater interest in tribal reconciliation, and we’ve seen a shift in tribal attitudes” over the past four months.

While the moves to form the Diyala Awakening, the willingness of some tribes to cooperate with the U.S. military and the Iraqi government, and the rejection of al Qaeda by the 1920 Revolution Brigade are all welcome signs, there is still a very hot war ongoing in the province.

Diyala is second only to Baghdad in U.S. casualties. One-sixth of the U.S. deaths in May – or 21 of the 126 casualties – occurred in Diyala. The Iraqi police, Army and tribesmen have been repeated targets for assassination. The most recent attack was against the home of Col. Ali al-Jorani, the police chief in the Balda district of Baquba. Fourteen were killed, including 12 policemen, and Jorani’s wife and son, and three others were kidnapped. The next day, on June 9, Iraqi Police killed three suicide bombers as they attempted to detonate at checkpoints.

U.S. and Iraqi forces have also been engaging al Qaeda and pushing into areas previously not patrolled. On May 21, U.S. and Iraqi forces conducted operations in Qasirin, just south of Baqubah On June 5, a joint Iraqi and U.S. force killed 19 insurgents and wounded 1 during a ground and air attack against insurgent positions in the town of Kabat, also south of Baqubah Joint forces also took fire from a mosque in the city of Baqubah hile conducting “a combined military operation to clear sections of Baqubah ”

Another raid in Muqdadiya resulted in the capture of “seven suspected militants including an Afghan,” Voices of Iraq reported. “The forces also manned checkpoints and imposed tight security measures in preparedness for a large-scale operation in the area to hunt for al Qaeda militants in Muqdadiya.”

The groundwork is being laid to conduct a large scale offensive to uproot al Qaeda from its strongholds in Diyala. The addition of the tribes and Sunni insurgent groups in the fight against al Qaeda is a welcome sign, but the battle will be tough, as al Qaeda has established safe havens in regions of the province.

Read more about The Diyala Campaign.

Watch the CNN video on Buhriz and the 1920s Revolution Brigades:

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.



  • anand says:

    There are positive signs in the fight against Al-Qaeda linked Jihadis in Diyala, and across all of Iraq. Over time this will result in significantly less terrorist attacks against Iraqi population centers, but this is a long hard slog. Another major bridge was blown up recently, and progress against Al-Qaeda might be hard to quantify for some time. For many Iraqi civilians suffering from Al-Qaeda attacks, and the sectarianism they spur (and the negative economic, security consequences of Al-Qaeda’s terrorist attacks), progress against Al-Qaeda might be difficult to believe and accept for quite a while. Since many civilians blame the GoI, IP, IA, and multinational forces for being unable to protect them from Al-Qaeda, even if the GoI and coalition stop 95% of Al-Qaeda attacks, the 5% that get through will cause disillusionment and a lack of confidence in the government on the part of many.
    Having said this, the progress against Al-Qaeda across all of Iraq is real, gradual, and gaining momentum.
    Unfortunately, Al-Qaeda is only one of many problems that afflict Iraq. This is especially true in Al Basrah (organized crime, militias, ordinary crime), Baghdad (sectarian violence, organized crime, militias, ordinary crime), and Diyala (sectarian violence, organized crime, militias, ordinary crime), The real danger lies in Diyala and Baghdad. Because sectarian violence and tension in these two provinces could ignite a civil war in Iraq should any sudden spark ignite the ugly sectarian flames.
    A civil war in Iraq would probably spark a broader middle east war in which million would die. The two great partitions (1947 in South Asia where more than a million people died in a few weeks, and 1948 in the Near East that sparked a war that still reverberates) might pale in comparison to this war.
    Sectarian tension between the different political parties and their militias remain the greatest challenge in Diyala. Will Muqtada make lasting peace with the 1920 Brigades, Baathists and other sunni arab militias? It’s not clear. Can the 5th IAD earn the respect, trust and admiration of the vast majority of Diyala sunni arabs, even as the vast majority of sunni arabs participate in crushing Al-Qaeda? I don’t know.
    That is why Baghdad and Diyala will likely be aflame long after the other 16 provinces go PIC and start to stabilize.
    16 Iraqi provinces can be stabilized while the patience of the American public and Congress lasts, IMHO. Is there enough time to stabilize Baghdad and Diyala before US combat troops leave? For most of Baghdad’s neighborhoods, probably. For Baghdad’s toughest neighborhoods and Diyala . . . I am just not sure.

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    Trackbacked by The Thunder Run – Web Reconnaissance for 06/13/2007
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