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Iraq Report: The Turkish Invasion that wasn't

Yesterday's news from Iraq was dominated by rumors of a Turkish invasion of northern Iraq. The news turned out to be false, as Ankara, Baghdad and Washington all denied the reports from two unnamed Turkish officials. Turkey has seen an increase in attacks from the radical Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) over the past several months, and has been pressuring the Iraqi and U.S. governments to conduct military operations against the terrorist group which is holed up in the mountainous regions in the Kurdish provinces. The Kurds are opposed to allowing the Turkish military to conduct operations in Iraqi territory to root out the PKK.

The impact of last week's battles in Amiriyah, between Iraqi residents, insurgent groups, elements of the Anbar Salvation Council and U.S. and Iraq security forces on one side, and al Qaeda on the other, is still being sorted out. The U.S. is now conducting joint patrols with the Amiriyah "freedom fighters," who oppose al Qaeda's presence. Reports on jihadist websites indicate al Qaeda in Iraq and the Islamic Army in Iraq have patched up their differences, The Islamic Army is one of the groups in that fought al Qaeda in Amiriyah. It is unclear exactly who makes up the "freedom fighters," but it should be remembered that groups like the Islamic Army in Iraq have been split, with portions siding with al Qaeda and others with groups like the Anbar Salvation Council. There has been a constant back and forth between the factions of the Islamic Army and al Qaeda over this issue.

The raids against al Qaeda in Iraq's network and insurgent cells continue. Today, Coalition forces captured 16 al Qaeda during raids in Fallujah, Hit and Baghdad. Wednesday's raids in Anbar province and Mosul resulted in 1 al Qaeda killed and 6 captured. Also on Wednesday, Coalition forces killed 2 terrorists and captured 10 while working to dismantle car bomb cells in Baghdad. "Intelligence reports also indicate that the VBIED cell is responsible for chlorine attacks, assassination attempts against Iraqi officials and other high-profile attacks in Baghdad," noted Multinational Forces Iraq. In a separate raid, Coalition forces killed an al Qaeda emir and captured 3 associated. Muhammad Mahmud 'Abd Kazim Husayn al-Mashadani was identified as the "al-Qaeda emir in the Hay al-Jamah area of Baghdad and part of a deadly vehicle-borne improvised explosive device cell." Earlier in the week, Iraqi Special Operations Forces captured "four suspects believed to be coordinating and conducting extra judicial killings in the Baghdad area," Coalition forces captured 6 insurgents southwest of Radwaniyah and 2 terrorists were killed and 11 captured during a 3 day operation northeast of Balad.

The U.S. and Iraqi security forces continue to target the Iranian backed "secret cell terrorist network." Today's raid inside Sadr City resulted in the capture of 16 members of the "secret cell terrorist 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." One of the members targeted "is a key leader in the secret cell terrorist network that has ties to Iranian intelligence and is believed to be responsible for attacks on Iraqi civilians as well as Iraqi and Coalition Forces in Baghdad." Eighteen members of this network have been killed and 63 captured during numerous raids over the past three weeks.

Al Qaeda and Sunni insurgents continue to attack Shia targets and the security forces during a series of small scale bombing inside Baghdad and beyond over the past two days. On Wednesday, two car bombs were detonated near a Shia shrine in the Khadimiya district, killing 7 and wounding 25. Today, a pair of bombs "exploded almost simultaneously in the majority Shi'ite districts of Talibiya and Sadr City," killing 5 and wounding 15. Also, "an explosive charge detonated this afternoon near an outdoor market in al-Mansour neighborhood, western Baghdad, killing two civilians and wounding eight," Voice of Iraq reported. A suicide truck bomber killed 9 and wounded 22 in an attack on a police headquarters in the town of Rabia, a border town west of Mosul.

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