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Iraq Report: Second surge sinks

The news from Baghdad and beyond was relatively light today. While Coalition and Iraq forces continue to target al Qaeda and insurgent networks, al Qaeda conducted a mass casualty suicide attack inside the capital, its first large scale suicide bombing since May 11. But the big "story" comes from Hearst Newspapers, which purports a "second surge" is occurring in Iraq, which will double the number of combat troops on the ground by the end of the year.

The Hearst article misrepresents the process of troop rotations in Iraq - or elsewhere for that fact. The combat units on the ground do not abandon their posts, they have to wait until their relief arrives in theater. This overlap in forces has occurred several times since the onset of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Also, as units have had their tours extended, the timetable for forces arriving in theater were not pushed back, as this would have significantly impacted the Department of Defense planning. It should be noted that tours of all U.S. Army overseas deployments - both in Iraq and Afghanistan - have been extended from 12 to 15 months. The claim that a second, secret surge is occurring is inaccurate at best.

Iraqi and Coalition maintain the raids on al Qaeda high value targets and operative. Monday's raids in Baghdad, Mosul, Karma and Fallujah led to the capture of 3 assassination, sniper and IED cell leaders and 9 associates. Tuesday's operations in Mosul and Anbar province resulted in 15 captured, including 2 cell leaders. Iraqi Special Forces captured 16 al Qaeda during raids in Samarra on Sunday.

Also, in the city of Karma in Anbar province, where al Qaeda has battled U.S. and Iraqi forces, Coalition forces rescued 5 kidnapped Iraqis, including a young boy "who had been kidnapped and severely beaten with chains, cables and hoses," noted the Multinational Forces Iraq press release. "The four captives also showed signs of torture, and the boy stated the terrorists had hooked electrical wires to his tongue and shocked him." This raid led to the rescue of 12 more Iraqis held captive near Karma. Nine terrorists were killed and 3 captured during the rescue operation.

In Baghdad, al Qaeda in Iraq has conducted its first high profile bombing in over a week. Twenty-five Iraqis were killed and another 60 were wounded during a bombing in the Amil neighborhood in the Bayaa district in Baghdad. This was the first big strike inside Baghdad since May 11, when bridges were struck on the outskirts of the city. In Diyala province, "militants" murdered an Iraqi family at a false checkpoint near Baqubah. The entire family was killed - the mother, father, an infant and three children.

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