Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Soldiers Patrol Sadr City in Wake of Intense Fighting

About Photo: Army Sgt. 1st Class Craig McNeal, a native of Hollandale, Miss., pounds fists with an Iraqi boy while on patrol in Sadr City, a district of Baghdad, April 1, 2008. McNeal is the platoon sergeant for 4th Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment "Gimlets," 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, attached to the 4th Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team. The Gimlets moved to Joint Security Station Ur in support of recent combat operations in the area.
Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Christina Bhatti


Soldiers Patrol Sadr City in Wake of Intense Fighting
, April 08, 2008

Days after intense fighting and the March 30 call to peace from Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers patrol the outskirts of Sadr City, a district of the Iraqi capital, ensuring the safety of the city's residents.

Sadr City has been the backdrop of many conflicts for coalition forces since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. It's the poorest of all Baghdad districts and historically has been a safe haven for terrorists.

Soldiers from Company A and a platoon from Company B, 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, attached to Multinational Division Baghdad's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, are tired and dirty. They work 24 hours a day, with only catnaps to sustain them, but they relentlessly take to the filth-ridden streets in their mission to drive terrorists out of the area.

What began as a 96-hour tasking March 26 turned into an open ended mission.

Army Capt. Scott Bailey, Company A commander, said the mission in support of combat operations was a success.

"We had some significant contact when we first arrived," said Bailey, a Running Springs, Calif., native, "but we planned good company attacks, and now it is pretty quiet here."

Bailey attributed the quiet to a show of force from the "Gimlets" and other coalition forces, and said he is confident the soldiers have helped the residents of Sadr City.

Where it will lead is anyone's guess, one soldier said.

"We definitely helped stop the shooting, but only time will tell if we help the people improve their future," said Staff Sgt. James Dean, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and platoon sergeant from 4th Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment. For now, the focus is to support the Iraqi security forces and rid the area of terrorists.

When fighting broke out in Sadr City, terrorists targeted the Iraqi army checkpoints with mortar fire, and the Iraqi soldiers eventually left the checkpoint. To help restore their confidence, the Gimlets provided a constant presence and supplies, such as water, to the Iraqi soldiers.

"It is important that we help them get on their feet," Bailey said. "We need to support them and put them out front, so the Iraqi people can gain confidence in their army."

The Gimlet commander said he doesn't know when his soldiers will leave Joint Security Station Ur and head back to their area of operations, but he said he does know his soldiers are working hard to accomplish the mission around Sadr City.
From a news article by DoD’s American Forces Press Service - Written by Army Sgt. 1st Class Christina Bhatti, Special to American Forces Press Service
Mores news out of Iraq today at links below...

* LATimes.com
has this report out this afternoon...
Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr abruptly canceled plans for a massive anti-government and anti-U.S. march on Wednesday after accusing security forces of blocking followers from reaching the capital... There had been concerns that the march would have aggravated tensions between Sadr and Prime Minister Nouri Maliki and led to increased clashes between Iraqi and U.S. forces battling Shiite militiamen... Sadr announced his decision in a statement released by his office.
Read the full report at link below...
Iraqi cleric cancels plans for massive protest march

* AP.Google.com
reports it this way...
Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr threatened Tuesday to lift a seven-month freeze on his militia if the Iraqi government does not halt attacks on his followers or set a timetable for a U.S. withdrawal... The Mahdi Army cease-fire is seen as a major factor in the reduction of violence in Iraq. It has come under severe strain in recent weeks as the Iraqi government has taken on Shiite fighters... Al-Sadr called off a mass march planned for Baghdad on Wednesday - the fifth anniversary of the U.S. capture of the capital - after hundreds of his followers in areas south of Baghdad complained that Iraqi security forces were keeping them away...
Read this report in full at link below...
Al-Sadr Threatens to End Cease-Fire

* Alertnet.org
brings us this report and it starts off like this...
The top two U.S. officials in Iraq accused Iran, Syria and Lebanon's Hezbollah on Tuesday of fueling recent fighting in Baghdad, saying Tehran and Damascus were pursuing a "Lebanization strategy" in Iraq... "The hand of Iran was very clear in recent weeks," U.S. commander in Iraq, Army Gen. David Petraeus, said at a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee...
Read the full report at link below...
US sees Iran, Syria "Lebanon" gambit in Iraq

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