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Our irregular round-up of news from the front lines...
The New York Times qualifies their Iraq news by pointing out it's based on US claims (they usually don't tell you when they're passing on tips from insurgent insiders)
U.S. Says Guerrillas Were Killed In RaidsNow check out the way the Army Times reports the same story:
By Sabrina Tavernise
BAGHDAD, Iraq, April 30 — The United States military said Sunday that more than 20 guerrillas it identified as foreign fighters had been killed in recent raids south of Baghdad that were aimed at cutting down on insurgent attacks in the capital.
Insurgents have used the region in and around Yusifiya, a town 10 miles south of Baghdad that has long served as a base for Sunni Arab extremists, as a starting point for recent suicide attacks in Baghdad, the military said in a statement. Some of those killed in the raids over the past few weeks were wearing explosive vests, the military said.
The nationalities of the insurgents have often been difficult to determine, officials said, although they added that most of the dead appeared to be from outside Iraq. Iraqi soldiers have also participated in the raids.
Lush farmland and palm trees allow insurgents to disappear easily in the region, known as the Triangle of Death. Taming the area is central to security in Baghdad, whose southern edge, particularly the suburb of Dawra, has become so violent that many residents are afraid to leave their houses.
In further efforts to weaken Iraq's violent insurgency, President Jalal Talabani said Sunday that an agreement between the Iraqi authorities and seven armed groups "was possible," a spokesman said.
Mr. Talabani did not say which groups were involved in the discussions or when the agreement might be reached. Mr. Talabani has spoken publicly of contacts with insurgent groups in the past.
American officials said this winter that they had been meeting with Iraqi nationalist guerrilla groups to try to draw them away from extremists like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian who has claimed responsibility for dozens of bloody attacks against Iraqi civilians and American troops here.
Mr. Zarqawi, the head of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, is believed responsible for dozens of car and suicide bombings here that have killed and wounded thousands of Iraqi civilians. He also took credit for the November bombing of three hotels in Jordan that killed at least 57 people.
The raids around Yusifiya took place in April, and were focused on striking foreign-run networks, particularly those thought to be run by Al Qaeda, the military said.
Just nine days before al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi released his latest video, a special operations raid killed five of his men, captured five others and apparently came within a couple of city blocks of nabbing Zarqawi himself.Read it all - there's much more at the link. (I'm actually surprised at how much more.)
Then, the day Zarqawi’s video debuted, special ops forces killed 12 more of his troops in a second raid in the same town.
The raids in Yusufiyah, 20 miles southwest of Baghdad in the heart of the Sunni Triangle, were the latest battles in a small, vicious war being waged largely in the shadows of the wider counterinsurgency effort.
It is a war fought by a secretive organization called Task Force 145, made up of some of the most elite U.S. troops, including Delta Force and SEAL Team 6. They have one goal: hunting down Zarqawi, Iraq’s most wanted man, and destroying his al-Qaida in Iraq organization.
Zarqawi’s escape in Yusufiyah was not the first time special ops troops have nearly had him. In early 2005, they came so close they could see the Jordanian’s panicked face as he fled.
And in case you ever wondered if the NY Times would know a good story if it bit 'em on the ass, now you know.
And from the Mideast Stars and Stripes:
Sunni Troops Graduate From U.S.-Run Training
American military says recruitment of Anbar province forces significant
By Joseph Giordono, Stars and Stripes
HABBANIYAH, Iraq — The first all-Sunni class of Iraqi army trainees graduated from an American-run basic training course here Sunday, marking what U.S. military officials called a significant step in rebuilding the Iraqi security forces.
Some 978 men — including more than 800 from Fallujah — were sworn in as privates in the new Iraqi army, the first cadre of a planned 6,500 Sunni troops to be recruited from and trained in Anbar province.
And as the Iraqis stand up, the Americans come home:
ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq – Down at the motor pool, the smell of diesel fills the air. The mechanics, wrenches at the ready, are standing by for an incoming convoy, out there somewhere kicking up dust on the last leg home. A warming sun floats slowly up into a wide, blue sky.
It's another beautiful morning in the desert, a workday at war. But for Capt. Jim Shuman's “wrench turners” and the rest of the men of the 1st Battalion, 118th Field Artillery, it's Georgia, not Iraq, that's on their minds.
“What they're talking about is going home,” the smiling motor-pool boss says. And they can almost see the moonlight through the pines.
“The big mission of winning hearts and minds – whether that's going well is anybody's guess,” Shuman said. But “there's a great sense of accomplishment in doing our part.”
And over at Newsweek, the results:
Osama Needs More Mud HutsMy son's response on hearing of the new bin Laden audio tape: "I wonder where he lost his camera?"
Imagine if a few months after September 11 someone had said to you, "Five years from now, in the space of a single week, Osama bin Laden will issue a new call for worldwide jihad, the head of Al Qaeda in Iraq will threaten a brutal, endless war, and there will be two terror attacks in Egypt." Chances are you would have been quite unnerved. Yet the most striking aspect of last week's news was the reaction to it—very little.
Radical Islamic terror made big, violent and scary moves and—whether you judge it by media coverage, stock-market movements or international responses—the world yawned.
Al Qaeda Central, by which I mean the dwindling band of brothers on the Afghan-Pakistani border, appears to have turned into a communications company. It's capable of producing the occasional jihadist cassette, but not actual jihad. I know it's risky to say this, as Qaeda leaders may be quietly planning some brilliant, large-scale attack. But the fact that they have not been able to do one of their trademark blasts for five years is significant in itself.
"(I'm actually surprised at how much more.)"
General Lynch has spent the last 6 months(or more) segmenting the enemy, in every press conference...Terrorists and Foreign Fighters, Saddamists, Iraqi Rejectionists.
In the space of a couple of days, Army Times gives us a VERY detailed look at what is being done about terrorists and foreign fighters and how additional special forces resources are being applied.
We then have various press reports...that Jalal Talibani has met with "Iraqi Rejectionists" and is confident that they will soon be laying down their arms.
I suspect there will be another "shoe" to drop in the next couple of weeks.Posted by Soldier's Dad at May 2, 2006 02:10 AM
By God, SD, I sure hope you are right about that shoe dropping! I will keep an eye out for that. Thanks for the heads up.Posted by Major John at May 2, 2006 01:40 PM
Oh, and Son of Greyhawk is right - OBL cannot afford a new handycam? Personally, I still think he's vulture chow somewhere in the Hindu Kush...Posted by Major John at May 2, 2006 01:41 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(3) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)