Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Report: 3 Kurdish brigades ordered into Baghdad

Above: Kurdish Peshmerga forces. The Kurds and Sunnis have a long-standing ethnic enmity, and each claim ownership of oil-rich Mosul. In 2004 Kurdish President Barzani offered to send 30,000 fighters to clean out Sunni Fallujah.

Officials said the army has been ordered to move three brigades from provinces in the north and south to Baghdad, Middle East Newsline reported. They said the provinces were located in the autonomous region of Kurdistan and southern Iraq.

"It takes time because it's not an easy task," Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammed Al Askari said.

Officials said the United States has pressed the government of Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki to bolster the army in Baghdad. They said Iraqi forces would be responsible for the bulk of counter-insurgency operations in central Baghdad.

At this point, officials said, most of the army units allocated for redeployment were composed of Kurdish soldiers. They said the new brigades - which would increase the Iraqi military presence in Baghdad to 20,000 - could remain in the city for months.

"I have no details about the participation," Kurdish General Assembly deputy speaker Aref Tayfor, based in Irbil, said. "But if these [Kurdish] forces participated, it would be at a limited level."

The U.S. military has demanded that Al Maliki order a raid of Shi'ite strongholds in Baghdad, particularly Sadr City. Sadr City was said to serve as the headquarters of the Mahdi Army, the militia led by Iranian-sponsored cleric Moqtada Sadr.

Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the number two U.S. commander in Iraq, said the lack of sufficient Iraqi forces led to the failure of previous efforts to stabilize Baghdad. In a briefing on Sunday, Odierno cited Operation Together Forward, launched in June 2006 and designed to quell the Sunni insurgency in the Iraqi capital.

"I think what happened was, is, we overestimated the availability of Iraqi security forces initially," Odierno said. "We didn't have enough here. So we have to be able to make sure we have enough forces, Iraqi and coalition, in order to do it this time."

Read the rest at the Aspect

Related Link:
Report: Baghdad surge to be rapid influx; Iraq commits 3 new brigades of mostly Kurds