Iraqi forces detain 180 “suspects” during Basrah raids

Iraqi security forces conducted a massive sweep throughout Basrah province Tuesday. Iraqi Army and police units detained 180 “suspects,” including a Pakistani national, and found several large weapons caches, during the operations.

Forty-four suspected insurgents were detained, including a Pakistani man, while entering Iraq “illegally through Safwan border road, 60 km west [of] Basrah,” the Basrah media office told Voices of Iraq. Operations outside of Basrah netted additional 136 isuspects.

The Pakistani man was likely an al Qaeda operative. Safwan is in southeastern Basrah, right on the border with Kuwait. While most al Qaeda operatives pass through Syria or Iran, the transit through Kuwait, while uncommon, does occur.

Al Qaeda has an active support network in Kuwait. Some of the senior most al Qaeda leaders, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the architect of the Sept. 11 attacks; Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, an al Qaeda spokesman; Omar Farouq, a senior al Qaeda operative; Ramzi Yousef, a planner behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

The affiliation of the rest of the captured men was not given, but are likely members of the Mahdi Army. The Iraqi military is often circumspect about the detention of Mahdi Army fighters.

The Mahdi Army has been active in Basrah until Iraqi forces launched an operation in March to clear the city and wider province from the Iranian-backed militia. More than 3,000 Mahdi Army leaders and operatives are said to have fled to Iran to regroup, and are believed to be infiltrating back into Iraq.

Targeting Qods Force inside Iraq

Prior to today’s sweep in Basrah, Iraqi security forces captured an “Iranian infiltrator” in province’s Shatt al Arab region, Voices of Iraq reported. While not stated, the Iranian is a member of the Ramazan Corps, the command created by Qods Force, the elite special operations branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. Qods Force has established the Ramazan Corps to direct operations inside Iraq, and has been working to undermine Iraq’s security and political environment.

Iraqi forces have now captured nine Iranian agents and killed one since Oct. 18. One Iranian was killed and another was captured during a clash with Iraqi forces in Al Kut in Wasit province on Oct. 24. Iraqi police captured three armed Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps officers in Al Kut on Oct. 20. Border guards captured four more Iranian agents in Mandali in Diyala province.

Prior to this week, only a handful of Iranian operatives, along with a Lebanese Hezbollah leader, have been reported captured inside Iraq. The US military believes Iran is ramping up operations inside Iraq after losing ground during the Iraqi offensive during the spring and summer of 2008.

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: 10/29/2008 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

  • anand says:

    This op smacks of possible involvement by the ISOF regional Basrah area commando battalion.
    Any word on how the IA 53-14 is doing right now in Al Basrah province? Presumably it has completed its upgrading near Taji by now. {It was probably upgraded beyond what the usual motorized infantry brigade gets. Up armored humvees? Some wheeled armored fighting vehicles? Some tracked vehicles?}
    Has IA 52-14 completed its retraining? How is it coming along?
    IA 51-14 seems to be doing better than during its former LIB and later 5-10 IA days.
    IA 50-14 has long been rated C1. Is there any word yet on how it performed in the operation of the knights in Basrah during March/April 2008?
    14th IAD probably gets some armored vehicles, but I don’t know which ones. The mechanized British Bde suggests that the 14th IAD gets armor.

  • anand says:

    I meant the 7th British armored Bde above. It is probably training mechanized IA elements in the 14th Division.
    It might also be helping with the forming 18th IAD in Maysan and the QRF bde being formed for the Southern IA Corps.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    anand at October 29, 2008 7:19 PM ET:
    – “Any word on how the IA 53-14 is doing right now in Al Basrah province?”
    Still in Baghdad Province at last report. Suspect it is partnered for urban experience/training there. Might be getting armor training with 9th IAD since part of the Bde is still at Taji. At least one Bn is in Bayaa District. Meantime the 26/7 is still in Basrah covering.
    – “Has IA 52-14 completed its retraining? How is it coming along?”
    Completed in Jun/Jul. Operating north of Basrah since. No hard reports pro or con.
    – “IA 50-14 has long been rated C1. Is there any word yet on how it performed in the operation of the knights in Basrah during March/April 2008?”
    Best unit in that fight until the Anbaris arrived.

  • anand says:

    53-14 has been in Taji/Baghdad for more than 3 months after reaching C3 status. I suspect it is by now high C3 near C2 given the amount of training and partnering it has received.
    50-14: “Best unit in that fight until the Anbaris arrived.” No doubt the 50-14 and the 36-9 performed capably in the charge of the knights. Still, I haven’t seen a detailed after report on the Charge of the Knights operation.
    Since, there is no longer a threat of insurrection in the deep south, perhaps some might be willing to make public a detailed play by play (the good, the bad and the ugly . . . and there was a lot of each.)
    It would be interesting to know for sure what exactly happened in Basrah.


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