Iraq announces security operation in country's second largest city




 
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Iraq announces security operation in country's second largest city
 
September 14th, 2006  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: Iraq announces security operation in country's second largest city


Iraq announces security operation in country's second largest city
Media: The Associated Press
Byline: By ELENA BECATOROS
Date: 14 September 2006


BASRA, Iraq_Thousands of Iraqi and British forces will start a security
crackdown in the country's second largest city in a bid to rid it of death
squads and stop mortar attacks on residential areas, Iraqi authorities
announced Thursday.

Although the mainly Shiite city of Basra has not seen the level of violence
that is plaguing the Baghdad, 550 kilometers (340 miles) to the north, it
still suffers from violence _ including attacks on British bases in the
area.

Authorities also openly acknowledge that the local police force has been
infiltrated by militia, and that corruption is widespread.

"We cannot accept the situation as it is today," Gen. Ali Hammadi, head of
Basra's High Security Committee, said at a news conference. "The security
situation must be improved and the 'death squads' defeated if the city is to
prosper."

Hammadi said the security operation _ which will include both Iraqi and the
mainly British forces deployed in southern Iraq _ would take place over the
next few months and would include all sectors of the city.

"Starting very soon, we will regularly surge thousands of Iraqi security
forces, assisted by Multi-National Forces, into the city to create a secure
environment," he said. "We will seek to make 'death squads' and other
criminals a thing of the past."

A coalition official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because official
announcements were being made by the Iraqi authorities, said the operation
would begin in the next two days.

Hammadi said the plan aimed to stabilize the situation in Basra to the point
where Iraqi forces could take over the handling of security from coalition
troops. The handover of security control to Iraqi forces is a key element of
any eventual drawdown of international troops.

The start of the Basra operation comes as Iraqi and coalition forces
continue a massive security effort in Baghdad, where troops and police have
been going through the city neighborhood by neighborhood in an effort to
stem the widespread sectarian bloodshed pitting Sunni Arab and Shiite
Muslims against each other.

In predominantly Shiite Basra, however, the violence has been mostly between
Shiite groups battling each other for power as well as attacking Sunni Arabs
in the city. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki declared a state of
emergency in the city in June.

Iraqi authorities also acknowledged Thursday that part of the city's
security problems stem from the infiltration of the police by militia
members.

"We have...to say that our institutions are corrupted," said Deputy Interior
Minister Gen. Abdel Khider al-Tahir. "We have to clean this up."

Al-Tahir insisted that efforts were being made to find and arrest corrupt
members of the Iraqi forces.

"If we find anyone, we will arrest them and severely punish them," he said.

In an effort to tackle the police problem, authorities were also trying to
find new recruits, the deputy minister said _ although the force is already
over-staffed.

"We start to build our police. We chose the correct people to be an example
for the others," he said, adding that the selection process for about 200
extra policemen will be stringent.

Those being recruited will come from all backgrounds _ including Sunnis and
Christians, al-Tahir said.

He said that while for the time being, the security operation would use
forces already in Basra, local authorities would discuss with al-Maliki the
possibility of sending more troops from outside the area.

"What we want to try and do here is to start momentum," said British Lt.
Col. Peter Merriman, commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Regiment
of Fusileers. "What we want to do is to show people what the benefits of
security can bring."

The plan was designed in the hope that the city's population "will recognize
themselves that actually, with better security comes the promise of better
economic future," Merriman said, referring to reconstruction work that has
been stalled.
 


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