Wednesday, February 07, 2007

U.S.-Iraqi sweep Sunni district in 'Operation Arrowhead Strike 6', but say crackdown yet to start

An Iraqi holds his mother after she suffered a panic attack following the questioning and near-detainment of her son in today's operation

Iraqi and US forces swept through a Sunni district of Baghdad, searching houses and seizing weapons in a blitz by some 2,000 American soldiers and an Iraqi army brigade, a US officer said.

Major Robie Parke of 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team said the security sweep targetted a Sunni district in northeastern Baghdad in the start of a crackdown by US and Iraqi forces on militias and insurgents behind bitter sectarian killings in the capital. "Iraqi and US forces conducted clearing operations in Adhamiyah today, which is the beginning of the new security plan," Parke told AFP.

Soldiers searched dozens of houses and that "a large number of weapons were seized and more than a dozen people detained."

Operation Arrowhead Strike Six, one part of a plan expected to involve up to 85,000 US and Iraqi troops, focused on the Shaab and Ur sub-districts. An aide to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki denied the operation was the start of the security crackdown. "The new security plan has not been launched, this is an operation to put pressure on Adhamiyah after we received information that fighters were gathering there," the source said.

A high-ranking US army official stressed that the Baghdad security plan was a process involving a broad range of troop movements along with logistics and strategic planning. "The process has already begun. The Baghdad security plan is a process, its a long operation, it's not going to be a three day operation or a three week operation," the officer said.

More American forces have been arriving in Baghdad for at least three weeks while Iraqi forces have also built up in the capital, establishing reinforced security posts at several points in eastern districts on Monday.

Read the rest at Al Bawaba