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.
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.
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.
2008: A tip led to the discovery of a major al Qaeda headquarters (for
terrorist operations in three provinces) on an island in the Tigris river 125 kilometers
north of Baghdad. The bunker was large enough for 30 men to live there, and
contained over 1,500 weapons and bomb making supplies. Terrorist attacks throughout
the country continue to decline.
2008: The fighting against the Shia militias has caused a 31 percent increase (over
February) in civilian deaths (923) for March. Another 1,358 civilians were
wounded. Another 159 dead were security forces, while the Shia militias lost
2008: Someone fired a few rockets into the Green Zone, causing property damage,
but no casualties. It's unclear if they were fired by Shia or Sunni groups. Not
all Mahdi Army factions are happy with the order to comply with a cease fire
and, in effect, allow the army and police to move into areas the government has
not controlled for years.
2008: In the north, two days of Turkish artillery
fire and aerial bombings have killed at least fifteen PKK rebels along the
Sadr ordered his Mahdi Army to stop fighting and to allow food and other
supplies to get to over a million civilians trapped in their homes for a week. The
government lifted the curfew in Shia areas so supplies could move. The police
used the ceasefire to continue searching for and arresting leaders of Shia
2008: Five days of fighting with Muqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army is actually a
well rehearsed and planned attack on dozens of different militia organizations
that, to one degree or another, are part of the Mahdi Army. The factionalism
within the Mahdi Army is the main reason for this widespread attack (in Shia
neighborhoods of Baghdad, throughout Basra and in Nasiriyah, Kut and Hilla. The
police and army has been preparing for this operation since late last year.
There was very little aid from American or British forces during the first few
days of the attacks. While some police and army units stumbled, the operation
succeeded in chasing militias out of nearly every area attacked.