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Iraq Report: Battling in the Belts

Iraq Report: Battling in the Belts

As US and Iraqi security forces continue to push out into the Belts regions surrounding Baghdad, al Qaeda and insurgent groups are attempting to push back. Two significant attacks occurred in Salahadin and Diyala province, while US and Iraqi forces press the raids on al Qaeda's network and the Iranian-backed Shia terror cells.


Southern Salahadin province, the regions just north of Baghdad, remains a hot spot for al Qaeda and the insurgency. While reports of last week's report of massed al Qaeda attacks on Iraqi police stations in Samarra turned out to be false, about 30 al Qaeda fighters attempted an attack in the city on August 27. US and Iraqi security forces repelled the attack, and killed 12 and captured 14 enemy fighters in the process. Two US soldiers and two Iraqi civilians were killed during the fighting.

In Tikrit, the Iraqi Army captured "the leader of a network of terrorist cells linked to the former regime of Saddam Hussein" and his daughter, Raghid Hussein. Raghid finances the insurgent network while in exile in Jordan. Interpol issued an arrest warrant for Raghid on August 17, and she is on the list of 41 most wanted suspects for financing the Iraqi insurgency. Iraqi Army Scouts also captured a cell leader behind several assassination attempts, including the 2004 assassination of the governor of Ninewa province.


US and Iraqi forces maintain the pressure in Diyala province after successive US and Iraqi offensives in Baqubah and the northern Diyala River Valley cleared al Qaeda from the region. The latest operation occurred in Khalis, where a joint US and Iraqi Army air assault resulted in 33 al Qaeda operatives killed and three captured during a series of firefights and helicopter strikes in the city. Voices of Iraq reported the bodies of an additional 11 al Qaeda fighters were found after the operation.

As US and Iraqi forces operate in Baqubah and the North, al Qaeda in Iraq has struck in the South and East. Al Qaeda operatives dressed as Iraqi soldiers set up fake checkpoints and kidnapped nine civilians in Muqdadiyah. The government has imposed an indefinite curfew in the district while implementing a "new security plan." The city has been hit with a string of suicide attacks and assassinations.

Al Qaeda and Special Groups

The special operations forces raids against al Qaeda's network continue. A significant number of al Qaeda operatives are being killed in the latest round of operatives. Eight al Qaeda operatives were killed and 11 captured during raids in Kirkuk, Tikrit, and Baghdad on August 28. Nineteen al Qaeda were killed and 22 captured during raids in Baghdad, Salman Pak, Kirkuk, Ba™ajah, Muqdadiyah, Hawija, and Taji on August 26 and 27. A suicide bomber coordinator, a cell leader in the Arab Jabour region, an administrative Emir, and a foreign terrorist facilitator were among those killed or captured. On August 25, US and Iraqi forces killed three al Qaeda operatives and captured eight during raids in Husaybah, Kut, and Baghdad.

The raids against Iran's proxy terror groups continue as well. On August 27, Coalition forces captured eight members of the Iranian-backed Special Groups terror cells during a raid Baghdad's Sadr City. The main target of the raid, a "Special Groups senior level facilitator with possible Iranian connections," was captured along with seven suspected cell members. On August 28, Iraqi and US forces captured a weapons distributor who is connected to the Special Groups network and has "direct ties to other senior commanders in militias operating in and around Baghdad."

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