Monday, April 14, 2008

Iraq: On Ground Updates - Day Twenty-Two of Operation “Charge of the Knights” - Monday, April 14, 2008

* Iraq: On Ground Updates *
Day Twenty-Two of Operation...
“Charge of the Knights”

, April 14, 2008
*Operation Charge of Knights Continues Progress in Basrah
Multi-National Division Southeast PAO
, April 14, 2008
Operation Sawlat al-Fursan, or Charge of the Knights, entered a new phase of operations in Basrah, April 12.

The operation, which began March 24, has now started the process of clearing strongholds previously dominated by criminal militias.

A deliberate house-to-house clearance operation of the south-western Basrah district of al-Qiblah was conducted without major incident. It resulted in significant quantities of arms, ammunition and explosives being found. To date, Coalition forces involvement has been minimal, reflecting the ever increasing ability and resolve of the Iraqi Security Forces to enforce the rule of law.

Iraqi operations in al-Qiblah to date have yielded an improvised explosive device factory, numerous weapons handed over by locals, or left in the streets, in addition to two significant arms cache finds with numerous IEDs, mortars and RPGs.

Operations have not been limited to Basra. A senior al-Qaeda in Iraq leader was arrested at an Iraqi Army checkpoint in the small town of Abu al-Khasib 20 kilometers southeast of Basrah.

Coalition forces continue to provide 24-hour-a-day airborne surveillance over the city for the ISF. On several occasions, CF fighter aircraft provided “shows of force” in support of ISF troops on the ground and remain ready to provide air support if required.

Elsewhere, United Kingdom and United States Military Transition Teams, or MiTTs, are embedded with Iraqi Security Forces. These teams are providing advice and support to the units they work alongside.

The atmosphere inside the city has generally been calm over the past two weeks. The people of Basrah are proud of what the Iraqi Security Forces, both Police and Army, have achieved in the city. Many Iraqis feel positive progress has been made against criminal elements, as life returns to normal.

The Port of Umm Qasr opened a few days after the start of Operation Charge of the Knights, having been secured by the Iraqi Army. The port is now operating, with the Government of Iraq working to bring it up to recognized international standards. An Iraqi Navy detachment has taken over port security from the Army.

“Basrah is one step closer to realizing its true potential,” said Maj. Tom Holloway, a spokesman for Multi-National Division - Southeast. “There is much further to go, but recent operations in the city have been described by locals as the most significant events since 2003. The sense of optimism is palpable, and the desire by Basrawis to seize the moment is evident.”

From press release # 20080414-03 - Multi-National Corps-Iraq - Public Affairs Office, Camp Victory
* brings us this great news today and it starts off like this... A British journalist held for two months by kidnappers in the southern Iraqi city of Basra was rescued on Monday by Iraqi forces sweeping through the city in a crackdown on militants, the Iraqi military said... Richard Butler, a photographer on assignment for the U.S. network CBS, had been kidnapped from a hotel in the centre of the southern city in February... "He is in good health. He is fine...
Read the rest of this good new at link below...
Kidnapped UK journalist freed in Iraq's Basra
(Welcome home Mr. Butler... and congratulations go out to the Iraqi Forces for a job well done. I’m sure Mr. Butler’s family and friends would second that. AJ)
* reports... U.S. and Iraqi forces plan to stay put in a southern sector of Baghdad's Sadr City where they are battling militiamen rather than push deeper into the Shiite bastion, a top US general said on Monday... There are "no plans to go beyond where we are," said Major General Jeffery Hammond, commander of US forces in Baghdad... Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told AFP on Sunday that the operations launched more than a week ago would carry on until the sprawling district in eastern Baghdad is entirely cleared of Shiite gunmen... "We will continue until we secure Sadr City. We will not come out, we will not give up until the people of Sadr City have a normal life," Dabbagh said... But Hammond said the main aim of the push into Sadr City was to stop lethal rocket attacks from Sadr City into the heavily fortified Green Zone, the seat of the Iraqi government and US embassy...
Read this report in full at link below...
US troops plan to stay put in Baghdad's Sadr City: general

* reports... Iraq's hardline Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Monday urged that 1,300 troops and police sacked for failing to do their duty during a crackdown on Shi'ite militias be reinstated... "The brothers in the army and the police who handed their weapons to their brothers in the Mahdi Army were following the orders of their religious leaders and schools," Sadr said...
Read the full report at link below...
Sadr: Reinstate sacked troops

* has this short report and it starts off like this... The Iraqi government, headed by Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, agreed Sunday on a draft law calling to ban any party backed by an armed group from running for local elections and participating in the political process... The draft law will be given to the parliament for approval on Thursday and will be voted upon within 90 days...
Read the rest at link below...
Iraqi Parliament to Vote on Parties backed by Armed Groups
Army file photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy T. Lock

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