News from Iraq

Sep 14, 2007
Well its straight from the source. No need to wait 3 weeks for a story to be built up by big media hype. You can get this news daily.

I was encouraged by the following story from the web site -

In 24-hr battle, Hawr Rajab turns on al-Qaeda
Monday, 10 September 2007
Multi-National Corps – Iraq
Public Affairs Office, Camp Victory
APO AE 09342

RELEASE No. 20070910-05
September 10, 2007

In 24-hr battle, Hawr Rajab turns on al-Qaeda
Multi-National Division – Center PAO

HAWR RAJAB, Iraq – Over the course of 24-hours across September 6-7, a decisive battle reshaped the security outlook for Hawr Rajab, when more than 80 concerned local citizens swept through the streets looking to drive al-Qaeda elements out of the city.

The concerned local citizens coordinated with the imam of a local mosque to broadcast the message to al-Qaeda, “Move to the mosque and they will be given amnesty, and there will be peace in Hawr Rajab.”

Initial fighting kicked off as U.S. Soldiers were preparing to depart. The Soldiers, of Troop A, 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, currently attached to the 2nd BCT, 3rd Infantry Division, adjusted their plans after the first shots were fired, moving into an overwatch position.

As the day progressed, al Qaeda fighters engaged the CLCs with small-arms fire and mortar rounds. More than 45 mortar rounds were fired into the city during fighting that lasted nearly 24-hours. The battle finally ended in the early morning hours of Sept. 7 with the CLCs in control of strong points in Hawr Rajab.

This turning point for concerned local citizen involvement with the area’s security came just five weeks after the soldiers of the 2nd BCT, 3ID began working with the residents of Hawr Rajab.

Captain Chad Klacius, commander of Troop A, said the battle proves residents are rejecting al-Qaeda.

“They’re tired of them,” Klacius said. “They want to take back their city. That area has been under the control of al-Qaeda for some time.”

While U.S. troops do not fight side-by-side with the concerned citizens, Coalition Forces assist thru over watch and air support if they request help. The citizens are providing security in an area that does not have Iraqi Security Forces.

After confirming the location of al-Qaeda forces, Troop A Soldiers called in an AH-64 Apache helicopter in the midst of the battle. The helicopter was engaged by al Qaeda with a .23 millimeter anti-aircraft gun. The Apache responded with a Hellfire missile, killing two al-Qaeda members and destroying the weapon.

U.S. Air Force F-16 jets were also called in to destroy a bridge that was being used by al-Qaeda as a crossing point into city.

Over the course of the day, four enemy fighters were killed, with an additional 30 suspected al-Qaeda detained. Two of the detainees confessed to belonging to local al Qaeda cells, while two were included in reports of terrorist activity in the area. All four were taken into custody by U.S. forces for questioning.

The concerned local citizens emerged with only one individual killed in action, and four wounded. U.S. troops suffered no casualties.

You're obviously just a lying, Republican shill, Bush loyalist. There's no such thing as positive news coming from Iraq.
You're obviously just a lying, Republican shill, Bush loyalist. There's no such thing as positive news coming from Iraq.

Here's some more:

Thousands return to safer Iraqi capital

By STEVEN R. HURST, Associated Press Writer Sat Nov 3, 2:43 PM ET

BAGHDAD - In a dramatic turnaround, more than 3,000 Iraqi families driven out of their Baghdad neighborhoods have returned to their homes in the past three months as sectarian violence has dropped, the government said Saturday.

Saad al-Azawi, his wife and four children are among them. They fled to Syria six months ago, leaving behind what had become one of the capital's more dangerous districts — west Baghdad's largely Sunni Khadra region.

The family had been living inside a vicious and bloody turf battle between al-Qaida in Iraq and Mahdi Army militiamen. But Azawi said things began changing, becoming more peaceful, in August when radical anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr ordered his Mahdi Army fighters to stand down nationwide.

About the same time, the Khadra neighborhood Awakening Council rose up against brutal al-Qaida control — the imposition of its austere interpretation of Islam, along with the murder and torture of those who would not comply.

The uprising originated in Iraq's west and flowed into the capital. Earlier this year, the Sunni tribes and clans in the vast Anbar province began their own revolt and have successfully rid the largely desert region of al-Qaida control.

At one point the terrorist group virtually controlled Anbar, often with the complicity of the vast Sunni majority who welcomed the outsiders in their fight against American forces.

But, U.S. officials say, al-Qaida overplayed its hand with Iraq's Sunnis, who practice a moderate version of Islam. American forces were quick to capitalize on the upheaval, welcoming former Sunni enemies as colleagues in securing what was once the most dangerous region of the country.

And as 30,000 additional U.S. forces arrived for the crackdown in Baghdad and central Iraq, the American commander, Gen. David Petraeus, began stationing many of them in neighborhood outposts. The mission was not only to take back control but to foster neighborhood groups like the one in Khadra to shake off al-Qaida's grip.

The 40-year-old al-Azawi, who has gone back to work managing a car service, said relatives and friends persuaded him to bring his family home.

"Six months ago, I wouldn't dare be outside, not even to stand near the garden gate by the street. Killings had become routine. I stopped going to work, I was so afraid," he said, chatting with friends on a street in the neighborhood.

When he and his family joined the flood of Iraqi refugees to Syria the streets were empty by early afternoon, when all shops were tightly shuttered. Now the stores stay open until 10 p.m. and the U.S. military working with the neighborhood council is handing out $2,000 grants to shop owners who had closed their business. The money goes to those who agree to reopen or first-time businessmen.

Al-Azawi said he's trying to get one of the grants to open a poultry and egg shop that his brother would run.

"In Khadra, about 15 families have returned from Syria. I've called friends and family still there and told them it's safe to come home," he said.

Sattar Nawrous, a spokesman for the Ministry of Displacement and Migration, said the al-Azawi family was among 3,100 that have returned to their homes in Baghdad in the past 90 days.

"In the past three months, the ministry did not register any forced displacement in the whole of Iraq," said Nawrous, who is a Kurd.

The claim could not be independently verified, but, if true, it would represent a dramatic end to the sectarian cleansing that has shredded the fabric of Baghdad's once mixed society.

The head of the ministry is Abdul-Samad Rahman, a Shiite appointed to his job by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is accused of promoting the Shiite cause to the detriment of Sunnis. Under Saddam Hussein, the Sunni minority ruled and heavily oppressed many in the Shiite majority.

Part of the inflow can be attributed to stiffening of visa and residency procedures for Iraqis by the Syrian government.

Mahmoud al-Zubaidi, who runs the Iraqi Airways office in Damascus, the Syrian capital, the flow of Iraqis has almost reversed.

What were once full flights arriving from Baghdad now touch down virtually empty, he told Al-Sabah, the government funded Iraqi daily newspaper. Now the flights are leaving Damascus with more passengers but the volume of travel is off considerably.

On average, 56 Iraqis — civilians and security forces — have died each day so far in this very bloody year. Last month, however, the toll fell to just under 30 Iraqis killed daily in sectarian violence.

More than four months after U.S. forces completed a 30,000-strong force buildup, the death toll for both Iraqis and Americans has fallen dramatically for two months running.

Across Iraq Saturday, 18 people were killed or found dead in sectarian violence, well below the year's daily average.

Things might really be starting to look up in Baghdad. I don't care what your political affiliation or ideology or stance on the war is. This is a positive thing.
On a personal note, mixed news on the Iraq front for me. Several friends who were deployed on a guard mission returned home safely after getting some important work done. In a small town, when 7 people who are well known in the community come home from a combat tour, it calls for a large celebration.
2 other Alaskans, one of whom I was school mates with, were killed last week while serving in the 10th Mountain Div.
I did not really know him from the school days, But when I heard what school, and saw his picture I immediatly recognized him. It is not the first person I know to have been KIA. Each one makes me ask what we are doing? Will the ends of this conflict justify the means?