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Iran Takes A Beating
by James Dunnigan
April 15, 2008

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The battles with the Shia militias resulted in neighborhoods close to the Baghdad coming back under government control. U.S. forces have been helping with clearing these areas of any weapons or lingering gangsters. With that, the Shia terrorists now have a much more difficult time getting close enough to use mortars or rockets. The longer range 122mm (20 kilometers, versus six kilometers for the 107mm weapons and mortars) rockets can still reach the Green Zone from areas still controlled by militia groups, but few of these larger (nine feet long and 150 pounds) rockets have been encountered.

The Mahdi army lost 571 killed, 881 wounded, 490 captured, and 30 surrendered, in a week of fighting. The army and police lost over 500 to desertions, which is a much lower percentage of these losses than in previous operations. One of the army brigades had only recently finished training. To everyone's surprise, the brigade did not fall apart. The Mahdi army lost far more in terms of neighborhoods controlled, weapons, vehicles and popular support. While many of the Mahdi army factions have turned into gangsters, the ones that have caused the most ill-will are Islamic radicals. These lads wander around harassing and attacking people who say or do things the fanatics consider un-Islamic. This is what goes on in Iran, and Iraqis know it and Iraqis don't want it.

Behind the scenes, negotiations continue with Iranian officials and leaders of the various Shia militias. The government has demonstrated that it now has much more powerful security forces, and, more importantly, the political will to fight, and defeat, the militias. That's a major change, and the Iranians have to deal with a major loss of influence in Iraq. The amnesty for militia members is drawing hundreds of takers.

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