Iraqi security forces detain senior Sadrist during Maysan operation

The Iraqi security forces today formally kicked off the operations against the Mahdi Army in the southern province of Maysan. On the day the government’s amnesty offer expired, the Iraqi Army and police conducted multiple raids throughout Amarah, the provincial capital. A senior Sadrist was detained during the raids.

Iraqi forces arrested Rafeaa Jabar, the head of the Sadrist office in Maysan province. He is the mayor of Amarah and the deputy governor of the province.

The Sadrists had stated they feared being the target of the operation. “We do not want Basrah events to be repeated in Amara,” Sheikh Salih al Obaidi, the lead spokesman for the Sadrist movement said on June 17. Obaidi instead called for “dialogue.” The Sadrist movement also closed down its office in central Amarah and “moved to another ‘good location.'”

Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki explicitly stated that the Sadrist movement is not the target of the Amarah operation. “The prime minister has ordered security forces not to arrest members of the Sadr movement randomly,” according to a statement issued by Maliki’s office. “Only outlaws must be arrested and he hopes that the Sadr leaders will help in isolating such elements to get rid of them.”

There have been no reports of major clashes or opposition to the Iraqi operations. Dozens of wanted individuals have been detained and large quantities of weapons have been found during the operation. Sixty “militiamen” surrendered during the amnesty period. A partial curfew has been imposed on some regions.

While the operation officially kicked off today, the Iraqi security forces have been operating in force throughout Maysan since last Saturday, when patrols and raids began in Amarah. Security forces began massing in Amarah last Thursday and Iraqi soldiers replaced border guards along the Iranian border.

A flurry of activity occurred in Amarah on June 18. Iraqi soldiers captured three wanted individuals during an air assault in central Amarah. Twelve policemen were detained for storing weapons and explosives in a jail in the city. Iraqi forces also found a large weapons cache in a cemetery in central Amarah.

Iraqi security forces have also stepped up security in the neighboring provinces of Dhi Qhar and Wasit. North of Maysan in Wasit province said “tight security measures” have been imposed to assist in the Maysan operation, according to security officials. On June 18, police seized a car “laden with 27 Iranian-made bombs” and detained the driver. Coalition forces detained three more Mahdi Army operatives in Al Kut on June 17. The US military has captured 12 mid-level and senior Mahdi Army leaders in Wasit province since June 3.

The Mahdi Army has pushed back in Wasit province. A district police chief and another officer were killed and 10 policemen were wounded in an improvised explosive device attack on June 17.

In Dhi Qhar, which borders Maysan to the south, provincial officials said operations are under way to support the Maysan offensive. “A detailed plan has been established in the province to maintain stability during the expected drive into Maysan province,” Staff Brigadier General Sabah al Fatlawi, the provincial chief of police, told Voices of Iraq. Police found a large cache of TNT during a raid in northern Dhi Qhar on June 18.

For background on the Maysan security operation, see:

Report: Iraqi security forces preparing operation against Mahdi Army in Maysan

Iraqi offensive underway against the Mahdi Army in Maysan

Iraqi security forces ramp up for Maysan operation

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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  • David M says:

    The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 06/19/2008 News and Personal dispatches from the front lines.

  • Cordell says:

    U.S. KIAs this month are running at about one per day, about 50% above the rate for all of May. While some month-to-month variation should be expected, can you explain the recent uptick? If anything, one would think casualties would be falling further after Iraqi forces occupied Sadr City. In addition, how soon do you expect closing off weapons smuggling, (particularly EFPs), from Iran via Maysan to show up in U.S. casualty reports? Are there any other major routes from Iran that need to be plugged?
    Many thanks again to you and everyone else at LWJ for the very detailed and informative reports.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    I know you didn’t ask me but,
    It only takes one bomb in the right place to match or exceed the 19 KIA in May.
    The closer we get to the elections in Iraq and US, the more attempts to spike the casualties will occur.
    They are trying for a mini-Tet. Sep/Oct will be peak incident months…

  • Dan R. says:

    Well, looks like the “Battle for Amarah” is over. According to the London Times, the IA has occupied the town without a shot being fired. All of Mucky’s boys have either bugged out or gone into hiding.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    At least 90 had surrendered to ISF by wensday that they did not even have arrest warrents for.
    JAM’s morale appears to be broken. They are turning themselves in even when we don’t know about them…

  • Neo says:

    Also take into consideration that all units of both US and IA are very active right now. While the IA is doing the big high visibility operations the US has been very busy with intelligence led operations. I don’t think they are going to slow down either, just add more IA units into the mix. Combine this with DJ’s point about variability and you’ve got your answer. Civilian casualties are still trending down.

  • Neo says:

    “Al-Mahdi Army militias routed without a shot fired”

  • Fill says:

    This is fantastic news.
    How are the Iraqi forces handling this with regards to potential over-stretch, moral, desertion rates, etc.?
    I appreciate your hard work. Thank you.

  • Cordell says:

    A promising development from the U.K. Times with respect to future U.S. casualties in Iraq:
    “Captain Ali denied that the criminal leaders had been allowed to get away. “We didn’t just let them escape, this was a kind of amnesty. This was a last chance for those who were misled by the militias and regretted it,”

  • Neo says:
    And buried deep within the world section of the New York Times. I’m not a regular NYT basher, but this is a pathetic excuse for an article. They are obviously using a stinger who is sympathetic to Sadr’s movement. The article begins with the usual nonsense about Sadr’s organization showing restraint. Than they go on about minor incidences of abuse and the appearance of inappropriate treatment.
    “There were reports of rough treatment and especially of arrests of eminent followers of Mr. Sadr. It was unclear whether the units making the arrests had warrants, as required under Iraqi law. If so, Mr. Sadr’s followers said they would not protest the detentions.”

  • GM Earnest says:

    Thank you Bill and LWJ for continuing to report on these developments. I’m no expert on military issues, but this news is very heartening.
    When connected to your articles on Iran’s clandestine operations in Iraq, this news is wonderful indeed! It does sound like the Iraqi Army is doing an excellent job. And kudos to the less glamorous U.S. training of Iraq’s new military.
    Regarding the editors at the NYT, it is nearly treason what they do. Maybe they should move their operations to Venezuela where they can soak up praise from henchmen and dictators. But then again, I doubt if the useful idiots at the Times would care for Caracas very much. Besides, life in New York is good. Freedom of the press, and fact-starved readers, still keep the old gray lady alive.

  • Dan R. says:

    Neo, I saw that NY Times article too and it made my blood boil as well. Seems like the author bent over backwards at every opportunity to try and minimize the success of the IA. But at the same time, we should certainly expect that from the likes of the NY Times and the Washington Post. It doesn’t change the facts on the ground, which are …
    1) The Iraqi government is in firm control of the country
    2) Al-Qaeda and the Sadrists are beaten.


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