New Iraqi Troops Fly Into Baghdad To Join Security Crackdown

New Iraqi Troops Fly Into Baghdad To Join Security Crackdown
February 26th, 2007  
Team Infidel

Topic: New Iraqi Troops Fly Into Baghdad To Join Security Crackdown

New Iraqi Troops Fly Into Baghdad To Join Security Crackdown
Arizona Daily Star (Tucson)
February 26, 2007
By Associated Press
BAGHDAD, Iraq About 130 fresh Iraqi troops from the country's Kurdish north flew into Baghdad on Sunday to join the fight for the nation's capital with the promise of a $200 bonus, nearly a month's pay.
The mostly Kurdish soldiers the first to arrive from the northern city of Irbil were greeted by Iraqi commanders as they filed off the gray C-130 troop transport. They wore camouflage, with machine guns or rocket-propelled grenade launchers slung over their shoulders. Many carried belongings in plastic bags.
The troops represented a fraction of the expected influx of some 8,000 Iraqi reinforcements from the north, the Shiite south and the insurgent stronghold of Anbar province west of Baghdad.
The drafting of troops from the north most former Kurdish guerrillas who fought for decades against Saddam Hussein's regime to participate in the security crackdown in the capital has raised concerns as many speak no Arabic and are unfamiliar with the territory and urban warfare.
Many Kurds also refused to leave their autonomous region to fight in far-off Baghdad.
But Lt. Gen. Ali Ghadan, Iraq's ground forces commander, said the Kurds and other troops coming from outside Baghdad had a powerful incentive. Each would receive a $200 bonus in addition to their regular salaries and would only be deployed for three months, then allowed to go home.
The minimum salary for Iraqi soldiers is nearly $300 per month, although some get food allowances, according to the Defense Ministry.
Ghadan said the troops would get another bonus of the same amount if they signed on for another tour after their first deployment.
The bonuses underscore the eagerness of the Iraqi government to show it can rally sufficient forces to allow it to take the lead in the security sweep aimed at clearing the capital of Sunni insurgents and local Shiite militias who have killed thousands in rising violence between the two Islamic sects.
The inability of the Shiite-led government to deliver the promised number of Iraqi forces has been partly blamed for the failure of two previous security operations in Baghdad. President Bush has promised to send 21,500 more American troops to Iraq for the current effort.
Gen. Babaker Shawkat Zebari, the army chief of staff, stressed unity in the armed forces, addressing concerns the Kurdish troops might resent being called to Baghdad because they feel more loyalty to their homeland.
"Baghdad is a beautiful city that desperately needs your help," Zebari, himself a Kurd, said in Arabic after welcoming the troops in Kurdish. "If the terrorists are defeated here, all of Iraq will get back on its feet."
A brigade from Sulaimaniyah, also in the Kurdish north, has reached Baghdad, but it is only 1,000-men strong, not the expected 3,000.
Capt. Amir Wali, a 29-year-old former Kurdish guerrilla who has been integrated into the army, agreed. "I was glad to come here," he told reporters after the ceremony. "We came to defend Baghdad against terrorists."
The Iraqi troops were the first to be brought to the capital in an aircraft piloted by Iraqis, the military said, touting it as a sign the Iraqis are making strides toward taking over their own security.
"Instead of depending on the friendly forces to move such units, now the transportation is done by Iraqi planes. This is a historic event," Ghadan said.

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