Daily Iraq Report for March 6, 2007

The Weekly Standard ^ | March 6, 2007 | Bill Roggio

As the Baghdad security operation takes shape, much of the violence continues to occur in the provinces outside the capital. The provinces of Diyala, Anbar, Babil, and portions of Salahadin are where many of the major attacks against Iraq and U.S. security forces, as well as Iraqi citizens, are occurring. Yesterday's bombing in Baghdad's book market was only the third major attack in the past nine days.

Terrorists are attacking Shia pilgrims traveling to Karbala. A series of suicide bombings have killed at least 93 and wounded more than 140 in Hillah in Bail province, just south of Baghdad. This is an attempt to reignite the sectarian violence and unleash the Shia death squads. Al Qaeda depends on such sectarian violence to destabilize the government and precipitate a U.S. withdrawal.

The U.S. military suffered the loss of 9 soldiers today. Six were killed in a roadside bombing during an operation in Salahadin province, and another three were killed in the violent Diyala province.

The Iraqi led Baghdad Operational Command reported that security operations in the capital resulted in the death of six insurgents and the capture of 55, "including 5 of Arabic nationalities." Questions remain about the status of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the leader the Islamic State in Iraq, al Qaeda's political front. Some reports indicate he was arrested in the Doura district in Baghdad. Others reports claim his two brothers were arrested, or that the person detained in Duluiya in Salahadin province, Abdullah Latif al-Jaburi, is in fact al-Baghdadi. Until the U.S. military confirms a capture, these reports should be treated with a high degree of skepticism.

Yesterday, U.S. and Iraqi forces conducted pinpoint strikes against Improvised Explosive Device cells (IEDs or roadside bombs). Four terrorists were killed in Sadr al-Yusufiyah while planting an IED. Two more insurgents were killed in Mosul and their bomb factory destroyed. One insurgent was killed and two wounded while they attempted to access their weapons cache in Tikrit.

U.S and Iraqi forces are on their third day of clearing operations in Sadr City. Dubbed Operation Tomahawk Strike, the joint force of 1,150 soldiers and police established 23 checkpoints in Sadr City while clearing the Jameela sector of the neighborhood. Brig. Gen. John Campbell, Multi-National Division - Baghdad deputy commanding general for maneuver, and Brig. Gen. Ali, commander, 8th Brigade, 2nd Iraqi National Police Division visited Sadr City as the operation was in progress.

Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army has decided not to engage government and U.S. forces at this time. Instead, Sadr's spokesmen are in the process of conducting an information campaign against the U.S. forces. Nahrain Net, the mouthpiece of Sadr's movement, claimed "that U.S. troops plan to increase their presence in Sadr City in order to strike the Sadrist Movement and the Mahdi Army in one of their main strongholds in the country," and that U.S. soldiers are harassing and assaulting Shia pilgrims heading to Karbala.

Shaykh Hasan al-Zarqani, the "official in charge of foreign relations in the Al-Sadr Movement in Iraq," attacked the British over the raid on an intelligence headquarters in Basra and lamented the U.S. push into Sadr City. Zarqani repeated the conspiratorial claim that the United States plans on stealing Iraq's oil. "The United States wants to implement a grand plan to control the sources of Iraqi oil and oil companies by enacting a law that allows the US oil-producing companies to take 70 per cent," said Zarqani.