Why haven’t American soldiers entered those areas in three years? Because of the Shi’ite support for the Wilsonian democracy project?
Iraqi Jihad Update. By Kim Gamel for Associated Press (thanks to Looney Tunes):
BAGHDAD – Security forces in Baghdad have full control in only 40 percent of the city five months into the pacification campaign, a top American general said Saturday as U.S. troops began an offensive against two al-Qaida strongholds on the capital’s southern outskirts.
The military, meanwhile, reported that paratroopers had found the ID cards of two missing U.S. soldiers at an al-Qaida safe house 75 miles north of where they were captured last month, but there was no sign of the men. The house contained computers, video equipment and weapons.
Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno said American troops launched the offensive in Baghdad’s Arab Jabour and Salman Pac neighborhoods Friday night. It was the first time in three years that U.S. soldiers entered those areas, where al-Qaida militants build car bombs and launch Katyusha rockets at American bases and Shiite Muslim neighborhoods.
The overall commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, said during a news conference with visiting Defense Secretary Robert Gates that the operation would put troops into key al-Qaida-held areas surrounding Baghdad.
Odierno said there was a long way to go in retaking the city from Shiite Muslim militias, Sunni Arab insurgents and al-Qaida terrorists. He said only about “40 percent is really very safe on a routine basis” “” with about 30 percent lacking control and a further 30 percent suffering “a high level of violence.”…
“There’s about 30 percent of the city that needs work, like here in Dora and the surrounding areas,” Odierno said. “Those are the areas that we consider to be the hot spots, which usually have a Sunni-Shiite fault line, and also areas where al-Qaida has decided to make a stand.”
With Baghdad and Basra “” the country’s second largest city and gateway to the Persian Gulf “” under curfew, violent deaths were down dramatically Saturday. Only three people were reported to have been killed or found dead in sectarian violence.
That did not include the discovery of 13 bodies of a tae kwon do team kidnapped last year in western Iraq while driving to a training camp in neighboring Jordan. The bodies were found 65 miles west of Ramadi, police and hospital officials said….
nderscoring the challenges, Gates arrived in Baghdad on Friday to find a city all but shut down by a security lockdown imposed after the bombing of an important Shiite shrine north of the city. The explosion at the Askariya shrine in Samarra destroyed the mosque’s minarets and prompted at least two retaliatory attacks “” both in southern Iraq.
On Saturday, attackers blew up the al-Ashrah al-Mubashra mosque in Basra at dawn, residents in nearby houses said. As they were leaving, the bombers wrote graffiti on the complex’s outer wall with the names of revered Shiite saints, witnesses said. No injuries were reported.