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May 21, 2007

Good News From Iraq

There is some, at least.

Militant behind January Karbala attack believed killed. The take-away here is that we pursued this guy relentlessly... and got him. It's the last part that's the tricky part.

U.S. forces on a raid in northern Baghdad killed a Shiite militant believed to have masterminded a brazen January attack in Karbala that led to the capture and killing of four U.S. soldiers, the military said Sunday.

Troops located Azhar al-Dulaimi on Friday morning and tried to capture him, but he was killed in the ensuing battle, Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, the spokesman for U.S.-led forces in Iraq, said on CNN's "Late Edition."

U.S. troops had been pursuing al-Dulaimi relentlessly since the Jan. 20 attack in the southern city of Karbala, Caldwell said.

In that attack, gunmen speaking English, wearing U.S. military uniforms and carrying American weapons attacked a joint military command headquarters where U.S. military officers and their Iraqi counterparts were meeting.

The attackers killed one soldier and abducted four others, whom they later shot to death.

"You know, anybody who kidnaps an American soldier and murders them, we're going to continue to hunt down. And that's exactly what we've been doing with this guy," Caldwell said of al-Dulaimi.

Baghdad insurgents may join war on Al Qaeda. A bit optimistic, maybe, but something similar seems to have already happened in Anbar.

Mirroring a nationwide trend, tribes near Baghdad are on the verge of banding together against al-Qaida and have met with U.S. military officials seeking aid and guidance in fighting the terrorist network.

Acceptance of — if not outright support for — al-Qaida among the tribes eroded after the strict Islamic law imposed by insurgents clashed with the authority of the sheikhs, according to U.S. military officials.

On Saturday, a group of local chieftains met with military commanders and a representative of the State Department at Camp Taji, about 20 miles northwest of Baghdad, and tentatively agreed to form a council that would oversee the creation of a provincial security force similar to the tribal militia created in western Iraq.

...

But even while U.S. commanders courted tribal support, they were wary of creating a new, separate fighting force and potentially further complicating the crowded battlefield around Baghdad that includes not only al-Qaida, but also Shiite militias.

“We are not here to build another militia,” Funk said. Volunteers from the tribes must cooperate with the Iraqi government’s security forces, he said.

The US military believes two of the three recently captured US soldiers may still be alive. Contradicting reports yesterday that implied at least two had already been beheaded.

Two of the three U.S. soldiers missing since a May 12 ambush south of Baghdad are believed to have been alive as recently as Friday morning, but the third may be dead, the military said Saturday.

The men have been the focus of a huge dragnet by U.S. troops, who have detained more than 700 people for questioning in and around Yousifiya, a market town 10 miles south of the capital.

Information obtained from the detainees and other sources has provided a clearer picture of the ambush, but the military still does not know the men's status, the top U.S. commander in Iraq said in an interview with Army Times published Saturday and confirmed by a spokesman, Col. Steven Boylan.

The military did not make clear what led it to believe that the two soldiers were still alive as of Friday.

Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, told the newspaper that the military had identified the person chiefly responsible for the abduction of the three men and the killing of four other soldiers and an interpreter.

"We know who that guy is," he said. "He's sort of an affiliate of Al Qaeda. He's the big player down in that area. We've tangled with him before."

I'm wondering if it's this al-Dulaimi guy.

Violence down in Bahgdad, but moves elsewhere. Still, if we can deny Al Qaeda a haven in one very large place, we can deny them havens elsewhere.


Thanks to Mr. Civility.

More: Tips supposedly "flooding" in about the soldiers' whereabouts. I doubt you're any more optimistic than I am, though.

It would take a miracle.


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posted by Ace at 10:49 AM

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