Shiia Pilgrimage in Northern Baghdad Proves Progress
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sep. 12, 2004 The annual Shiia pilgrimage to northern Baghdad's Kadimiyah Shrine took place Sept. 11 without incident and without involvement of multinational forces, proving the Iraqi people and their interim government have made progress, military officials said in a news release from Baghdad.
In March 2003 during the Islamic holy day of Ashura, 58 Iraqis were killed and 200 were wounded at the shrine when suicide bombers attacked those paying their respects to the imams buried there.
Shiia events like this pilgrimage were formally suppressed under Saddam Hussein, a professed Sunni Muslim. His arrest has allowed Shiia Muslims to practice their religion with more freedom, officials said.
In other news from Iraq, the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division transferred authority to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division in a Sept. 11 ceremony. The 1st Brigade Combat Team soldiers are returning to Fort Riley, Kan., after more than a year in Iraq.
The team initially was attached to the 82nd Airborne Division during its Iraq deployment, and has been attached to the 1st Marine Division since March 20. In addition to its combat operations, the team also formed and trained the 60th Iraqi National Guard Brigade and sponsored more $23.8 million in civil projects in the Anbar province.
Before deploying to Iraq to relieve the 1st Brigade Combat Team, the soldiers of the 2nd Brigade combat team were deployed to Korea.
Joint operations continue in Tal Afar to remove the foreign fighters who have forced citizens from their city. The objective of these operations, officials said, is to return security and governance to legitimate Iraqi control and to allow families to return to their homes in peace.
Multinational forces and Iraqi security forces have secured the main road around the city and are moving into Tal Afar to eliminate the presence of the terrorists who have taken control from legitimate Iraqi leaders, officials said.
During these operations, multinational forces and Iraqi security forces continue to work with Iraqi Red Crescent and medical personnel to provide medical assistance to citizens injured in the terrorist attacks, officials said. Multinational Forces also are providing humanitarian aid to displaced citizens in the form of food and water delivered to camps set up outside the city, they added.
A Multinational Force Iraq news release said the operations support Ninevah Gov. Duraid Kashmoula's objective to remove unwelcome foreign terrorists from Tal Afar and to return control to legitimate Iraqi authorities.
A $99,960 Multinational Force Iraq school refurbishment project will be complete by Oct. 20, as part of the ongoing humanitarian and reconstruction effort in the country. The Ibn al-Athir School, an elementary school in Baghdad attended by 972 students, will consist of 48 rooms and 40,000 square feet upon completion. Construction, which began Aug. 20, includes work on interior and exterior projects, electricity, lighting, sewer, window work, water storage, pumps, debris removal, painting and stripping, floor work and carpeting, general damage refurbishment, and a waterproof projector and bell system, officials said.
The construction project is made possible through the Commander's Emergency Response Program, otherwise known as "CERP" funds, officials said, part of a larger effort aimed at giving commanders on the ground the power to fix important infrastructure problems quickly. To date, some 70 other schools have been renovated in the Baghdad area under the program.
The 1st Infantry Division's Engineers Electricity Ministry Team is overseeing a series of improvement projects at the thermal power plant in Bayji. Construction is under way on a health care center that will service more than 4,000 employees and family members of employees of the plant. A chemical warehouse also being built to improve the plant's operational capacity, officials said. Both projects are 50 percent complete. "These projects are providing jobs for Iraqi workers, improving the operational capacity of the plant, and improving the quality of life for families in Bayji," a Multinational Force Iraq news release said.
(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq news releases.)