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Iraq Report: Attacking Mahdi, al Qaeda prison camp in Diyala

Over the past 48 hours, Iraqi and Coalition forces have U.S. forces have conducted multiple attacks against Muqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army, as well as al Qaeda in Diyala province.

This morning, U.S. and Iraq forces struck yet again against the Mahdi Army in Sadr City. The joint force captured yet another member of a network "known for facilitating the transport of weapons and explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, from Iran to Iraq, as well as bringing militants from Iraq to Iran for terrorist training." This is the third such raid in Sadr City in 48 hours. Seventeen members of this network have been killed and 32 captured during numerous raids over the past three weeks. This is the sixth raid against the Mahdi Army since Sadr's return from Iran on Friday.

Sadr met with his senior lieutenants on Sunday to "discuss a new direction for his movement after his return to public life ," AFP reported. "The Sadr movement is going to appear in a new form and with a new style on the Iraqi scene," according to Sheikh Salah al-Obeidi, a spokesman for the Sadrist movement. "We intend to establish a mechanism to escape from the routines that we used to work with and that were imposed on us by the circumstances in the country."

In Diyala province, where al Qaeda has established a stronghold, Iraqi and U.S. security forces have broke up an al Qaeda "prison camp" and captured 7 al Qaeda during two separate raids. Today, a joint U.S. and Iraqi Army raid rescued 41 Iraqi civilians "showing signs of having been tortured or mistreated" from an al Qaeda run prison camp just south of the city of Baqubah. "Many of them showing signs of mistreatment ranging from broken bones and bruises to heat injuries caused by being held with insufficient water," AFP noted. Iraqi soldiers captured seven al Qaeda fighters in the village of Karim Al Haymus on May 24th. Major General Abdulkareem Khalaf, the Director of National Command Center in the Iraqi Ministry of Interior, stated al Qaeda and its allies are "taking shelter in a triangle between Baghdad City and [the] Al-Ishaqi area north of the capital," after operations again the network over the past few months.

In Anbar province, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki took his second trip to Anbar province to meet with provincial ministers and U.S. commanders at Al Asad Air Base. "Attending the meetings were U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, General David Petraeus, Maj. Gen. W.E. Gaskin, Governor of Al Anbar Mamoun Sami Rasheed Al Awani, Provincial Chairman Dr. Abdulsalam Abdullah Mohammad, Iraqi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr. Rafa™a Al Issawi, and Iraqi Minister of the Interior Jawad al-Bulani," noted the Multinational Forces Iraq noted.

The Kuwaiti News Agency reported that "the US army enforced Friday a curfew until Tuesday in Al-Fallujah city" on May 25, however there has been no independent confirmation of this. An American Army officer serving in the region informed us no such curfew has been enforced. The U.S. Army does not own this battlespace, the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Iraqi Army Division do, and U.S Marines are stationed outside of the city in support of the Iraqi Army. Multinational Forces West has not responded to an inquiry on the status of Fallujah.

In raids again al Qaeda's network in Iraq, Coalition forces have captured 41 operatives over the past two days. Raids in Taji, Karma, Baghdad, Fallujah and Mosul resulted in the capture of 23 suspects on Sunday, while raids in Mosul, Fallujah and Baghdad netted 18 on Saturday. Those captured included IED cell leaders, foreign fighter facilitators and other operatives.

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