Latest News

September 19, 2006 3:00 AM

Campaign to bring peace to Baghdad's neighborhoods faces hurdles

American 1st Lt. Jake Hughes and his platoon from Apache Company of the 1-23rd Infantry had high hopes as they contemplated the predawn raid that was about to take place on the walled-in Shiite Muslim mosque in the Baghdad neighborhood of Ghazaliyah. This was how it was supposed to work, as Americans begin ceding more responsibility to Iraqis one month into an aggressive campaign to bring peace to Baghdad. The Iraqi Interior Ministry had provided the intelligence. A dozen Iraqi soldiers were to conduct the raid. The Americans were there strictly as backup. But in Baghdad, hope comes in small doses. It took the Iraqis 15 minutes just to get into the mosque They used a piece of wood as a makeshift wedge in an attempt to open an iron gate, then gave up and scaled a wall. As Hughes and the rest of his platoon retreated to the safety of their Stryker armored vehicles, the Iraqis spent another 30 minutes searching the mosque, only to discover no one inside. Nothing was found. It looked as if someone had been tipped off about the operation. The results were similar later that morning after a house-to-house search in another part of Ghazaliyah, a mixed Sunni Muslim/Shiite neighborhood. Iraqi intelligence, with ties to the countrys dominant Shiite political parties, appeared to focus exclusively on the homes of Sunni families whod just moved into abandoned houses. Four people eventually were taken into custody, whisked away by Iraqi police, though it wasnt clear why. Ghazaliyah is one of seven Baghdad neighborhoods initially targeted in Operation Together Forward, a security campaign launched Aug. 7 with 12,000 American and Iraqi soldiers. Through last week, the U.S. military said 53,000 buildings had been searched, including 54 mosques. More than 1,200 weapons have been seized, and 91 people detained. Officials point to the relative calm in nearby Ameriyah, a west Baghdad neighborhood, as evidence of the operations success. But another neighborhood, Dora, in southern Baghdad, appears to be seeing more violence. On Sunday, as many as 50 homemade bombs were found during raids there. Bodies continue to show up daily throughout Baghdad: 35 on Tuesday, bringing the total in the past five days to at least 170. Most of the victims have been found shot, blindfolded and with their hands tied behind their backs. Ghazaliyah is a good example of the hurdles that the campaign faces. Once a neighborhood where Saddam Hussein rewarded midlevel bureaucrats and military commanders with upscale homes and larger than average lots, parts of it now are the front lines of a battle between sectarian militias and death squads.

Related content

Comments

Videos

More Videos

More NFL players sit, take a knee following Trump criticism 1:44

More NFL players sit, take a knee following Trump criticism

Family trapped in house by floods in Puerto Rico 1:23

Family trapped in house by floods in Puerto Rico

More NFL players sit, take a knee following Trump criticism 1:44

More NFL players sit, take a knee following Trump criticism

NY Gov. Cuomo tours the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico 1:27

NY Gov. Cuomo tours the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico

'We are working. Not the government; we are.' Puerto Rico cleans up after Hurricane Maria 1:31

'We are working. Not the government; we are.' Puerto Rico cleans up after Hurricane Maria

Protesters disrupt GOP health care hearing 2:19

Protesters disrupt GOP health care hearing

Trump announces executive order that targets those financing and trading with North Korea 3:46

Trump announces executive order that targets those financing and trading with North Korea

Schumer: Democratic leaders and Trump have 'reached an understanding' on protections for Dreamers 1:40

Schumer: Democratic leaders and Trump have 'reached an understanding' on protections for Dreamers

Trump: 'We're working on a plan for DACA' 0:31

Trump: "We're working on a plan for DACA"

Trump on rescinding DACA: ’It’s going to be the right solution’ 0:34

Trump on rescinding DACA: ’It’s going to be the right solution’

  • Huckabee Sanders: It's always appropriate for Trump to defend our flag, national anthem

    White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it's always appropriate for the President of the United States to defend the U.S. flag and national anthem.