Saturday, March 17, 2007

News From Outside Baghdad

As the U.S. and Iraqi forces are having significant success in Baghdad, insurgents are moving out and trying to reestablish themselves in other areas of Iraq. There have been increasing attacks in both Anbar and Diyala provinces.

Diyala province is northeast of Baghdad and extends to the Iranian border. The population is mostly Sunni, but there are also significant Shia and Kurd populations. Diyala has seen a jump in attacks against coallition forces, mostly by al Qaeda but also by rouge Shia militias.

Col. Sutherland . . . said security forces were trying to work with tribal leaders and the local government to wean the residents from supporting the enemy.

"The increased violence cannot happen without the support of the people," said Col. Sutherland, commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.

Gen. Husain said terrorists in the area were getting help "from Iran to Baqouba (the capital of Diyala province). We have identified these areas and we are working to cut off the supply," he said. Gen. Husain, however, stopped short of directly accusing Iran of helping al Qaeda in Iraq. "Iran is not helping al Qaeda, but they are smuggling IEDs and other weapons like C-4 and anti-tank mines [into the area]," he said.

Gen. Husain said that security forces also had captured two Egyptians and two Syrians operating in Baqouba, and that other suspects had spoken of Afghans in the area.
. . . .
But as anti-coalition attacks increase, sectarian Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence is dropping, [Col. Sutherland] said. There were 124 killings of local nationals in July 2006, but the number came down to just 16 in February, he said.
. . . .
The U.S. military leader said security forces were working with tribal leaders in the province to help force a wedge between extremists and those willing to join the political process.

Read the story here.

In Anbar, there are increasing attacks by al Qaeda as the U.S. and Iraq forces are having success in convincing tribal leaders to denounce al Qaeda and join in support of the Iraqi government. Yesterday, three suicide bombers attacked in Anbar province, killing two policemant but exposing 350 civilians and six U.S. soldiers to chlorine gas.

Chlorine gas attacks date back to World War I, when it was used in German attacks at Ypress, France in 1915. It has of late become a favored weapon of al Qaeda in Iraq. Chlorine gas interacts with water in human tissues to form hydrochloric and other acids, thus making it a significant irritant. People exposed to chlorine gas will start to show symptoms of irritation within a few minutes of exposure -- and it can be quite painful and debilitating. The only good news about a chlorine gas attack is that it takes very high concentrations to be lethal and, in exposures of non-lethal concentration, the prognosis for recovery is very good. According to e-Medicine: "Most individuals exposed to chlorine gas recover without significant sequelae. Even exposure to high-concentration chlorine gas is unlikely to result in significant, prolonged pulmonary disease."

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