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Daily Iraq Report for March 24, 2007

Car and truck bombs continue to remain the most dangerous weapons in al Qaeda's arsenal. Al Qaeda in Iraq followed up yesterday's suicide assassination attempt on Iraq's Sunni deputy prime minister with a major suicide truck bombing in Baghdad. An al Qaeda suicide bomber used "a lorry packed with explosives and bricks" and rammed into an Iraqi police station in the Doura neighborhood. "The bomber penetrated the tightly guarded compound by seemingly posing as a driver bringing building materials for construction work being carried on at the site," notes AFP. Twenty were killed in the attack, including 16 police, and at least 26 were wounded. Al Qaeda has been targeting Iraqi security stations inside and around Baghdad in an attempt to break the spirit of the police and soldiers.

Outside of Baghdad, another 10 people were killed after a suicide bomber detonated his vest in a pastry shop in Tal Afar. Another bomber was detained in Najaf after his vehicle wounded two police and a civilian at an Iraqi checkpoint.

Abu Yahya Al Libi, an al Qaeda operative that escaped from the Bagram detention facility in Afghanistan in 2006, released a video concerning the Iraqi front. He stated the Baghdad security plan has failed and implored all Sunni insurgent groups to join the Islamic State in Iraq. "This is the legitimate duty and urgent need imposed by the circumstances of this stage of the jihad in Iraq," said al-Libi.

U.S. and Iraq troops are conducting clearing operations in the Karrada and Mansour districts of Baghdad. Iraqi troops are also conducting targeted raids in Sadr City. "Special Iraqi Army Forces captured a suspect tied to the kidnapping and murder of Iraqi civilians as well as attacks targeting Iraqi Security Forces during operations Saturday with Coalition advisers in Sadr City," notes Multinational Forces Iraq.

Nationwide, 3 al Qaeda were killed in an airstrike in Rutbah, and an additional 12 al Qaeda were captured in targeted raids in Mosul, Baghdad and Balad.

A major operation to clear Diyala is in the pipeline, according to CBN News. "Sources say the initial plans involve three distinct strikes from three different directions. The goal is to destroy enemy training facilities and prevent al-Qaeda forces from escaping," notes Erick Stakelbeck. "The insurgents are left with two choices--either to stand and fight or to retreat into Iran--at which point, they're Iran's problem," according to Daveed Gartenstein-Ross.

Citizens in Diyala are asking the Iraqi government to fight al Qaeda and prevent the province from "turning Diyala cities [into the next] Taliban emirate," notes Al Saabah. "Citizens said that the situation in the cities of Baquba, Muqdadyia, Khalis and Bald Ruz are turning into a major humanity disaster, especially after al Qaeda issued a list of all forbidden activities including] working at governmental offices, ownership of satellite and internet sets, as well as the destruction of mobile phone towers." [Quote paraphrased for English translation.] We have noted for some time the 'Diyala Salvation Council' will be formed shortly, and all signs point to this development.

The war on the Iranian front has heated up as well. The naval forces of the Iranian Republican Guards Corps are responsible for capturing the British sailors and marines patrolling the Shatt Al Arab waterway. Iran extracted 'confessions' that state they violated Iranian boundaries. The British are demanding the release of their servicemen.

This news comes as a British military officer states there is convincing circumstantial evidence Iran is fueling attacks in Basra. "We haven't found any smoking gun but certainly all the circumstantial evidence points to Iranian involvement in the bombings here in Basra, which is disrupting the city to a great extent," he said.

"We haven't found any smoking gun but certainly all the circumstantial evidence points to Iranian involvement in the bombings here in Basra, which is disrupting the city to a great extent," Lieutenant Colonel Justin Maciejewski said. "Local sheikhs and tribal leaders here in Basra, who are desperate to prevent this violence escalating, are telling us that Iranian agents are paying up to $US500 a month for young Basrawi men to attack us."

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