Raid in Baghdad’s Sadr City kills 49 Special Groups operatives

Sadr delivers sermon in Kufa after returning from Iran in May. [AP Photo] Click to view.

Multinational Forces Iraq conducted a major raid in Baghdad’s Sadr City. Forty-nine Special Groups operatives were killed in a nighttime raid targeting a cell leader of the Iranian-backed Shia terror group.

Coalition forces, often the cover name given to the special operations forces hunter-killer teams of Task Force 88, met heavy resistance in Sadr City as they cleared buildings in search of the Special Groups leader. The clearing teams “received sustained heavy fire from adjacent structures, to include automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenades, or RPGs,” and killed 33 terrorists. Six more terrorists were killed as air support was called in on a team attempting to maneuver and hit the Task Force with RPGs, and another ten were killed as the raiding party was leaving the site.

The size and scale of the engagement indicates Coalition forces may have, either knowingly or unknowingly, came close to a high-value target far greater than “an individual reported to be a long time Special Groups member specializing in kidnapping operations,” who has sought funding from Iran.

Multinational Forces Iraq also issued a warning to Muqtada al Sadr in its press release on the killing of the 49 Special Groups fighters. Multinational Forces Iraq has repeatedly warned Sadr and his Mahdi Army to hold to the ceasefire announced in late August.

By mentioning Sadr and the Mahdi Army in the same breath in a press release on the killing of Special Groups fighter, Multinational Forces Iraq is reminding Sadr the US recognizes the link between the two groups still exists. The mention of Sadr and his Mahdi Army in press releases on the Special Groups is fair warning that the distinctions made between the Special Groups and Sadr’s militia can be lifted at any time.

Iraqi and US forces have focused significant resources on targeting the Iranian-back Special Groups since the start of 2007. Most recently, Iraqi and US forces conducted two high-profile raids against the Special Groups over the past three weeks. On September 30, Coalition forces captured 15 members of the Special Groups during a raid in Baghdad. On October 5, 25 Special Groups fighters were killed during an engagement northwest of Baqubah in a raid designed to capture a Special Groups leader.


As the raid in Sadr City captures the headlines, Coalition and Iraqi forces have been clashing with the Mahdi Army in the southern city of Diwaniyah. The city has been a battleground in the past as the Mahdi Army has attempted to assert control of the city.

Elements of the Mahdi Army shelled the largely Polish force at Camp Echo, while attacking a convoy with machinegun fire on October 15. Twenty civilians and two Polish troops were reported wounded in the attacks.

On October 17, Iraqi forces arrested a Qadisiyah provincial council member “who is suspected of facilitating terrorist attacks.” The council member was a member of Sadr’s political movement as well as the Mahdi Army; Multinational Forces Iraq also warned the Mahdi Army to keep the peace in this press release. On the same day, a roadside bomb killed seven Iraqi policemen as they were on a patrol in the city.

On October 18, fighting was reported in a district in Qadisiyah province between Iraqi Security Forces and a group called Kataib al Hussein, or the Hussein battalions. The Shia group “had driven Iraqi police from a major district in the province, but reports issued following the attack allege the group has been driven out.”

On October 19, Polish helicopters killed two “extremists” after they targeted a Coalition patrol with three IEDs, machine guns and RPGs. On October 20, US and Iraqi forces were reported to have detained 30 Mahdi Army fighters during a sweep in Diwaniyah.

Shia extremist groups have specifically targeted Polish troops and interests in Iraq over the past month, as they took credit for attacks on the Polish envoy and embassy in Baghdad. The terror groups are attempting to influence the Polish elections and force a withdrawal of the eastern European nation.

Sadr called for a cessation of Mahdi Army attacks after a clash in Karbala with Iraqi Security Forces during a religious festival resulted in 52 killed and over 300 wounded. The festival was shut down due to the fighting. Sadr has been directly implicated in the Karbala fighting and is believed to be behind the assassinations of the governors of Muthanna and Qadisiyah provinces. Shia are beginning to turn on Sadr’s Mahdi Army in the Baghdad stronghold of Sadr City.

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

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  • Snooper says:

    This is GREAT news and we appreciate the sacrifices you and men like you subject yourselves to in order to bring us the news the Lame Stream will not.
    Our eldest is over there with you with the 101st and we also appreciate your dedication to our troops.
    Keep up the great work you are doing!

  • Don Bistrow says:

    It’s amazing how AP reports the Sadr City attack.
    They don’t mention coalition forces coming under attack. Here is part of AP reporting:
    “Iraqi police and hospital officials, who often overstate casualties, reported only 15 deaths including three children. Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said all the dead were civilians.”
    “Associated Press photos showed the bodies of two toddlers, one with a gouged face, swaddled in blankets on a morgue floor. Their shirts were pulled up, exposing their abdomens, and a diaper showed above the waistband of one boy’s shorts. Relatives said the children were killed when helicopter gunfire hit their house as they slept.”
    Further, AP is reporting the U.S. forces are not going to let up, “despite objections from the Shiite-led government of al-Maliki, who is working for closer cooperation with Shiite heavyweight Iran.”
    If it weren’t for Bill Roggio and Co. reporting these incidents as straight news without innuendo and conjecture we would believe we’re witnessing the remake of the My Lai Massacre.
    Thanks Bill and bloggers please report this with trackback.

  • AP “Reports”, Where’s the Truth?

    AP, Stephen Hurst Reporting: [Emphasis by LC]
    US: Raid of Baghdad’s Sadr City kills 49
    BAGHDAD – The U.S. military said its forces killed an estimated 49 militants during a dawn raid to capture an Iranian-linked militia chief in Baghdad’s …

  • Neo says:

    Just my opinion, but I suspect MNF and IA forces are nearing the point where they have the resources to deal with the situation in Qadisiyah. We already seem to have taken our efforts against the Mahdi army up a notch or two over the last couple weeks. I think the assassinations over the summer were the last straw for everyone involved. I wonder if JAM already realizes this and is trying to move resources back into Sadr City. Iraqi forces certainly seem to be doing quite well in Basra, at least to the point where they won’t be needing sizable backup. I guess Al Qaeda called its Ramadan offensive a success after the first day and called the rest off. OK, maybe not, but they might as well have. Anyway, any troops held in reserve to respond to the latest Al Qaeda offensive can be put in play somewhere else. I’m not saying that a large scale offensive is necessarily imminent (It’s not like I get that sort of information anyway), I do think there’s enough slack to shift our weight around a bit though. Just my thought on where this might be leading.

  • Neo says:

    “It’s amazing how AP reports the Sadr City attack.”

  • Trophy Wench says:

    I totally agree with you Neo. I didn’t see the AP version of it yet but from what Don had described it’s not unlike the coverage seen during the Israel Hezbollah war a year ago, but I digress.
    Intresting to see how Sadr is ramping up the attacks in south central Iraq and trying to push out the Poles and im sure other coalition forces as well. By the way, does anyone know how many followers/soldiers or whatever you want to call them al Sadr supposedly has left?

  • Winger says:

    Over here in the US and most other countries arond the world, the reporting may not have as large a negative effect. However, in Iraq, Afghanistan & Pakistan, these “news” reports can have a major impact on the long war.
    If the news reports generated in those countries, and the ones they pick up from AP are the same, no wonder we have a difficult time winning hearts and minds. The Iraqi spokesperson said all daed were civilians. What report did the Iraqis hear?
    I wouldn’t ask the AP to generate news stories that spin or lie in order to help our cause (although that would be nice), but I would ask them to consider that there are 2 sides to every story and they should at least report objectively. If there is any doubt, weigh on the side of caution.
    The lives of our proud young men and women , those of several other countries around the world, like Poland, and even the innocent people caught up in this conflict will bear the brunt of any slanted reporting they do to benefit the Democratic party or to damage President Bush.
    They think they are helping the soldiers by getting them out of Iraq but they are actually getting them killed and many other lives are being lost including bad guys that are motivated by what they read & hear. I am constantly amazed that their agenda is so driven that they can not accept the damage they are doing.
    Thats why I tell people to come to this site to get the real story and more of it. Thanks Bill.

  • Don Bistrow says:

    I should have added in my post about Sadr City and the AP report that we should remember Time Magazine and the rest reporting on Haditha.
    Now that Haditha is sorted out we should not expect the truth from the mainstream media so we will continue to come here and support The Long War Journal.
    The truth will set us free! Indeed.

  • Neo says:

    For anyone wanting the AP article. It is here.
    I will say that a few things have been corrected and reworded from the original. A little more carefully worded about who actually stating what and doesn’t anticipate or overstate reaction.
    CNN’s account is a good deal more inflammatory.
    A little information to put this into perspective, though. In a fight involving 50 plus militia and a sizable US force in crowded urban area, 15 civilian dead and 50 plus injured isn’t unlikely. Also, it may also be an accurate representation that the many of these casualties when on the roofs of buildings. The implication seems to be that US helicopters are indiscriminately firing at civilians on top of building. There’s a big problem with this claim though. We all know that fire directed from helicopters can certainly cause casualties but it will be throughout a building not confined to people on top of the building. High caliber high velocity ammunition fired from helicopters will penetrate deep into a building shattering masonry walls and causing deaths throughout. It’s not going to matter a whole lot where you are in the building. The problem with that implication is that light caliber ammunition falling on buildings causes that sort of casualty distribution they are suggesting. Such a distribution of casualties the majority of them coming on rooftops would implicate a large amount of indiscriminate fire from light caliber arms.
    Also, lets not over react here. Nothing I’ve seen main stream media thus far is on the scale of My Lie, or what was implied at to have happened at Haditha, or the miserable reporting from the Israeli – Hezbollah with reporters dutifully checking in with their Hezbollah approved minders.

  • Turner says:

    Assuming the military’s story is accurate, that’s a phenomenal number of casualties for the special groups. Iran’s special groups forces must be looking over their shoulders wondering who in the world gave them away and was able to direct the US military to a specific place and time when all of them would be gathered together. You can bet that they’re checking under their beds for bugs and eyeing their newcomers very suspicously.

  • Anon says:

    “Nighttime raid”. From what I’ve read, it’s common for Iraqi folks to sleep on their roofs, to escape the heat. I don’t know if that’s the case in the cities. But being outside would make you vulnerable to a lot of stray ordinance (not that I’m any expert). Thx for the reporting.

  • David M says:

    Trackbacked by The Thunder Run – Web Reconnaissance for 10/22/2007
    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day…so check back often.

  • Hamidreza says:

    The raid begun at 10:30 pm, and the 2 boys were killed in their beds on the roof at dawn, according to AP. Must have been quite heavy sleepers to sleep through a battle next door.
    Wherever you have an insurgent compound, you will find their wives to serve them, and they will be taking care of the children as well (each having between 5 to 10 kids). These women are as criminal as the men and deserve to be attacked, arrested or killed. So I am not sure why AP and the MSM think they are “civilians” just because of gender? Is this not a racist idea by the MSM (to use their own language) that men are always guilty but women are innocent? The women are accomplices to crime, and reckless endangerers of children, if not hostage takers.

  • Neocon News says:

    Linkfest Monday: Some perspectives on the situation in Iraq

    There’s just a lot of good information out there today about Iraq, and some of them do a better job of explaining things than I could- there are just some aspects of this war and its developments that can’t be summarized neatly or with a sn…

  • Neo says:

    We don’t need to be showing callousness toward women and children. Children certainly aren’t culpable for the actions of their parents and I doubt the women could leave the men even if they were totally disgusted with them. Things are going comparatively well. We certainly don’t need fallout from anything rash at this point. You might want to think twice about bringing up a gender equality argument in such a case, even mockingly. A little perverse if you ask me.
    Yes, your primary point is true. The militia & criminal elements do keep the wife and kids along. The family business often becomes an inheritance of sorts. That reality is pretty perverse and sad too. Are you familiar with Saddam’s family history?

  • Iraq Central 10-23-2007

    All the Iraq news for Today, 10-23-07.
    Some of this is a few days old because I was busy over the weekend. I don’t make any money here, so this is spare time.
    Video of ABC Reporting Good News From Fallujah — INDC
    Raid in Baghdad’s Sad…


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