Anti-Insurgent Raids Reduce Baghdad Violence, U.S. Officer Says
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 25, 2006 Iraqi and U.S. troops have used an “isolate, clear and hold” strategy during Operation Together Forward to dampen insurgent activity in some troubled Baghdad neighborhoods, a senior operational officer said in the Iraqi capital today.
The operation “is part of a larger effort across Baghdad to significantly reduce the amount of violence that was hindering progress in our area of operations,” said Army Col. Robert E. Scurlock Jr., commander of the 1st Armored Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team. He spoke to Pentagon reporters via a satellite connection from Camp Liberty, Iraq. The 2nd Brigade’s area of responsibility is in western Baghdad.
Scurlock said his soldiers and Iraqi troops of the 1st Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, began a sweep of Baghdad’s Amiriyah neighborhood Aug. 13. This operation, he said, was conducted in concert with other anti-insurgent operations launched across Baghdad.
The security sweeps were conducted to rid violence-prone Baghdad neighborhoods of murderers, kidnappers and other terrorists, Scurlock said. The Iraqi capital city was experiencing about 52 insurgent attacks daily during July, he said, and now it sees about 31 such attacks per day.
Isolated attacks on civilians, Iraqi security forces and coalition forces have taken place since the sweeps were completed, Scurlock acknowledged. But, “these attacks are still fewer than the average we’ve seen in recent weeks,” the colonel said.
For example, the Amiriyah neighborhood had experienced 29 murders during the 30 days prior to the start of Operation Together Forward, Scurlock said. Just three murders have occurred in Amiriyah since Aug. 13.
The anti-insurgent strategy employed in Baghdad has proven effective because “it shows the Iraqi people that their security forces, along with coalition forces, can provide a secure environment,” Scurlock said.
Al Qaeda in Iraq members, Sunni insurgents, Shiite death squads and garden-variety criminals are responsible for most of the violence committed in Baghdad, Scurlock said.
“There are different agendas out there,” Scurlock said, “and there are many people out there that are trying to counter our efforts.”
The desired outcome is to set conditions where the Iraqi security forces can handle insurgent activity and crime by themselves, the colonel said.
“And, they’re getting there,” Scurlock said.