Inusrgents stage defiant parades in string of towns west of Baghdad

Inusrgents stage defiant parades in string of towns west of Baghdad
October 20th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Inusrgents stage defiant parades in string of towns west of Baghdad

Inusrgents stage defiant parades in string of towns west of Baghdad
Media: The Associated Press
Date: 20 October 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq_Gunmen staged military-like parades Friday in a string of
towns west of Baghdad, underlining the growing confidence of Sunni
insurgents in a part of Iraq where U.S. and Iraqi forces maintain a heavy
presence and major counterinsurgency campaigns had taken place over the past
two years.

Like the audacious show of force by up to 60 insurgents in the city of
Ramadi Wednesday, the latest parades were staged in support of an
announcement this week by a militant Sunni Arab group that it had created an
Islamic state in six of Iraq's 18 provinces, including the capital Baghdad.

The declaration was made Sunday by the Mujahedeen Shura Council _ an
umbrella organization of Sunni insurgent groups that includes al-Qaida in
Iraq _ in a video tape posted on the Internet.

Iraqi insurgents are not known to control any territory in Iraq, but the
declaration appeared designed to counter the adoption in parliament this
month of a law that paves the way for Iraq's mainly Shiite south to
establish an autonomous region similar to a Kurdish one in the north.

Significantly, two of Friday's four parades _ in the towns of Haditha and
Haqlaniyah _ took place within less than 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) of U.S.
military bases, according to witnesses. There were no reports of clashes.

Beside Haditha and Haqlaniyah, parades were also held in the towns of Bani
Daher and Rwah, all of which are in Anbar, a vast and mostly desert province
where the Sunni insurgency has been fiercest since Saddam Hussein's ouster
in 2003. Ramadi is Anbar's provincial capital.

In the town of Haditha, where deep anti-U.S. sentiment runs high since
Marines allegedly killed 24 civilians to avenge the death of one of their
own last Autumn, dozens of masked gunmen riding in at least 20 sedans and
pickup trucks paraded undisturbed in the heart of the town for about 30

The town, 220 kilometers (140 miles) northwest of Baghdad, has not had a
police force for much of the past three years and the U.S. military in a
nearby base did not intervene.

The masked gunmen, shouting Allahu Akbar, or God is Great, wore white
overalls, a choice of color that suggests their readiness to die. They
carried assault rifles, rocket propelled grenades and heavy machine guns.

The gunmen also distributed candy and new clothes to gathered children, a
gesture to mark the Muslim feast of Eid al-Fitr, which is due to start next
week. Shops on the street where the parade was held remained open and none
of the shoppers appeared to be intimidated or worried by the presence of the

Widely used television footage of Wednesday's parade in Ramadi may have
caused embarrassment to the U.S. military and the embattled Shiite-dominated
government of Nouri al-Maliki.

U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell was asked about the
parade in a news briefing Thursday. He said he had not heard of the incident
although it took place more than 24 hours before.

The Interior Ministry spokesman, Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, said earlier
Thursday that participants in the Ramadi parade were members of the al-Qaida
in Iraq and that they suffered unspecified losses in clashes with security
and tribal forces following the parade, in which black-clad, masked gunmen
took over a central street for 15 minutes.

The bravado shown by insurgents in Anbar serves to illustrate the problems
faced by the U.S. military and their Iraqi allies in dealing with the
rapidly deteriorating security in the country.

Caldwell, the U.S. spokesman, acknowledged Thursday that a two-month-old
drive to rid Baghdad of insurgents and check widening sectarian violence had
fallen short. He also described the growing violence as "disheartening."

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