'Undeclared Ceasefire' in Baghdad Interrupted
Sunni insurgent groups and Shia militias have reportedly established an “undeclared ceasefire” based upon a commitment by a major domestic insurgent leader conditioned upon a cessation of attacks on Sunnis by Shia militias. The ceasefire - which appears based more upon calls for peace by Shia clergy than the actions of Shia militia - was blackened by two separate bombings, one in Baghdad and one in Kirkuk. This may not have been a break in the ceasefire if, as with an attack earlier this week in Kufa, it appears to have been perpetrated by an al-Qaeda affiliated group not part of the ceasefire. Meanwhile, U.S.-Iraqi troops continued targeting the Shia militia of Moqtada al-Sadr and U.S. forces are shifting more troops to Baghdad security. Operation Guagamela wrapped up a Kirkuk-area terror stronghold without a casualty.
According to Al-Hayat, Muhammad al-Jaburi, head of the Iraqi National Unity Council, which represents seven Iraqi insurgent factions, said Sunday that they were willing to declare a ceasefire in their fight with Sadr’s Mahdi Army if they observed that the Shia militia refrained from attacks on Sunnis. Jaburi emphasized that his “ceasefire” offer was in response to the strong statements issued by Shia religious authorities against attacks on Sunnis this past week. The article notes that Jaburi has negotiated with American forces in the past.
Following the bloody attack on Shia civilians in the Mahmudiya district Monday, a second attack targeting Shia civilians struck Kufa, which is in the south-center part of the country. Reuters reports that the Mujahideen Shura Council, an al-Qaeda-affiliated group, has taken credit for the attack. On Saturday ThreatsWatch reported that Iraq’s Shia mosque endowments had decided to unite their work with that of Sunni foundations for five days as a sign of solidarity with them over the abduction of 20 Sunni mosque foundation employees. The New York Times has the full story.
Reuters also reports on a major confrontation between U.S.-Iraqi forces and the Mahdi Army over Saturday night:
…There were also heavy clashes in the district overnight between the Mehdi Army of radical Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and U.S.-led forces, residents and police said. The U.S. military said in a statement that Iraqi troops raided a site in mainly Shi’ite eastern Baghdad targeting two people believed to be involved in “death squads” — a term usually applied to Shi’ite militia activity. It said eight people were detained after a battle involving machineguns and grenades and that two Iraqi hostages were freed. Two other people were arrested in a similar raid in northwestern Baghdad, the military said…
MNFI has further information on these operations.
On Thursday ThreatsWatch reported on the initiation of Operation Guagamela. The operation responded to reports of increased al-Qaeda in Iraq activity in Hawija, near Kirkuk in north-central Iraq. The ten-day operation involved door-to-door searches and without firing a shot 3,000 Iraqi troops detained 154 terror suspects and seized large amounts of weapons. Also following up on a recent ThreatsWatch report on operations in Ramadi, Iraqi soldiers from the 7th Iraqi Army Division searched the Ma’ath Bin Jabal Mosque after taking small-arms fire from insurgents and found a weapons cache (Camp Ramadi press release).
Iraqi forces captured a ‘Most Wanted’ insurgent leader, a local tribal leader involved in insurgent activities throughout Qadisiya in south-central Iraq.
Iraqi troops captured six individuals involved in kidnapping rings in two separate raids, one near Abu Ghraib and one in the Baghdad area.
U.S. and Iraqi soldiers found a large stash of enemy weaponry and money on July 18 in Baghdad.
Coalition forces killed one terrorist and captured five others during a raid in Samarra on July 20. Intelligence had indicated local links to al-Qaeda, and one of those captured reportedly has admitted to ordering hundreds of attacks against Iraqi citizens.
The overall trend in Baghdad over the past week was an increase in violence, and an American military spokesman said that insurgents were “streaming into the capital,” seeing its decisive importance for the future of Iraq (Washington Post). U.S. military commanders, in coordination with Iraqi Defense Minister Abd al-Qader Jassem al-Ubaydi, plan to increase both U.S. and Iraqi troop strength in the Baghdad area, an increase that is reportedly expected to require a reduction in troops levels elsewhere in the country (New York Times).