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Iraq Report: Al Masri and the Anbar tribes; 4th brigade in Iraq

The status of al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Ayyub al Masri remains uncertain. The Anbar Salvation Council, the grouping of tribes and former insurgent groups united in opposition to al Qaeda, is maintaining it had good intelligence on al Masri's death after it conducted a raid outside the provincial boundaries of Anbar. The fighting was said to be fierce after an expeditionary force of the Anbar Salvation Council engaged al Qaeda in the town of al Nibayi, near Taji in Salahadin province. Several al Qaeda fighters wer eleft on the battlefield, including what is thought to be al-Masri's, and the tribal fighters, along with Task Force 145, are said to be mvoing back into al-Nibayi in an attempt to recover the corpse. Reports indicate some bodies are currently being tested to identify those killed.

The fighting in al Nibayi highlights a significant development. After less than one year since its formation, the Anbar Salvation Council is no longer content with remaining a static paramilitary force designed to protects the tribal areas, cities and towns within the province. The Anbar Salvation Council has formed an expeditionary unit or units, designed to operate outside of Anbar's provincial boundaries, apparently with the approval of the Iraqi government. The group is taking advantage of its tribal affiliations, which span the provincial boundaries. It is using the intelligence gained from former insurgents in its midst to attack al Qaeda and other Sunni insurgent groups in their strongholds.

In Bagdhad, al Qaeda conducted a successful car bomb attack just outside Sadr City. Ten were killed and 25 wounded after a suicide bomber crashed into a police patrol near the Imam Ali hospital.

The fourth U.S. combat brigade is now in Iraq. After a report on April 19th stating the 4th Brigade, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team had moved into Iraq, the news on the unit dried up. The 3,700 soldiers of the 4-2 SBCT "will be deployed in various locations around the country," according to the Multinational Forces Iraq press release. "Their mission will be to assist Iraqi Security Forces to clear, control and retain key areas of the capital city in order to reduce violence."

Iraqi and Coailtion operations against al Qaeda and insurgent cells continue. Twelve members of al Qaeda's network were captured during raids in Anbar province and Baghdad.. Yesterday, Iraqi Special Operations Forces captured 5 members of a car bomb cell in Baghdad, and six members of a death squad. On April 30, Iraqi Special Operations Forces captured Sayyid Sallih Al-Jezzaani, "an individual believed to the leader of a rogue element of the Jaysh Al-Madhi (JAM) militia in the Basrah area," along with 7 other suspects.

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