Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division hand out humanitarian aid to residents in Shula on May 26. (US Army photo)
The Iraqi Army’s operational tempo has stretched the force’s manpower and put an operation in the Shula neighborhood in Baghdad on hold, a senior Iraqi general said last week.
“[Operations in the] Shula neighborhood … has not been completed yet because we do not have enough units,” said General Nasr Abadi, the Vice Chief of Staff of the Iraqi Armed Forces, in a press briefing on May 28. The current operations in Basrah, Mosul, and Sadr City have used up the Iraqi Army’s reserves and forced the Iraqi Army to temporarily halt the offensive. “The operation will restart again after we have enough units,” Abadi said.
Iraqi and US forces began operations in Shula in early May just as the fighting was winding down with the Mahdi Army in Sadr City. The 22nd Brigade of the 6th Iraqi Army Division moved into Shula in early May and took control of the headquarters of the Office of the Martyr Sadr.
Iraqi troops occupied the Sadrist office because it was being used by “Special Group extremists.” The Iraqi Army clashed with the Mahdi Army as it took over the Sadrist office, and the Sadrists claim 30 of its members were detained in the operation. US forces engaged in heavy fighting during a search operation in Shula on May 16.
Iraqi soldiers also detained 35 hospital workers in the Mohammed Bakr Hakim hospital in the Shula neighborhood on May 6. The hospital workers are suspected of treating wounded Mahdi Army fighters and providing assistance to the militia.
The hospitals in Sadr City and in other Shia neighborhoods are known to be infiltrated with Mahdi Army and Sadrist bloc members who continue to use the hospitals for criminal activities. The Mahdi Army used hospitals as staging areas for sectarian attacks and weapons storage depots. The US military killed Arkan Hasnawi, a senior Mahdi Army Special Groups commander, during a guided rocket strike on a Mahdi Army command and control center situated next to the Sadr Hospital in Sadr City on May 3.
Iraqi Special Operations Force captured a senior Mahdi Army commander in charge of a unit consisting of about 300 fighters in Shula on May 25.
Senior Mahdi Army Special Groups financier captured
Coalition special forces teams captured a “key assistant to a senior Iranian-trained Special Groups leader who recently fled Sadr City under pressure from Iraqi Security Forces,” Multinational Forces Iraq reported. “The captured man is suspected of kidnapping, managing funds for Special Groups in Sadr City, and providing funds to various other elements within the Special Groups criminal organization.”
The US military stated Mahdi Army commanders are leaving Sadr City and surrounding neighborhoods, and abandoning their units to escape the Iraqi security forces. The Mahdi Army commander captured today was found in Rusafa, which borders Sadr City.
Iraqi and US forces continue operations against the Mahdi Army in Baghdad. Iraqi National Police and soldiers found three of the Iranian-made explosively formed projectiles along with several weapons caches in Sadr City on May 31. Iraqi Special Operations Forces captured nine Mahdi Army fighters during a raid in Baghdad. US soldiers killed two Mahdi Army fighters in New Baghdad on May 30. Iraqi and US forces detained five Mahdi Army fighters in the Baghdad districts of Mansour, Adhamiyah, and West Rashid on May 30. Iraqi Special Operations Forces captured a Special Groups cell leader and three operatives in western Baghdad.
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