Monday, February 11, 2008

Sadr, Iran, and A Special Groups Commander Captured

Whether Sadr is Iraq's Nasrallah is open to debate, but seems probable. While the remenants of al Qaeda are still the main concern of U.S. forces, Iran poses the most significant threat to Iraq. Sadr is supposed to rule on whether to continue the "Mahdi Army" cease fire beyond February 23. As the date approaches, Iran is significantly increasing its infiltration into Iraq and U.S. forces are conducting high level raids on Iran's Special Groups, with the latest being the capture of a high level Special Group commander along with other members of Sadr's clique.


This today from the Long War Journal:

With Muqtada al Sadr set to decide on the status of the Mahdi Army ceasefire on Feb. 23, US and Iraqi security forces continue to step up operations against the Iranian-backed Special Groups and Sadr's Mahdi Army. The latest raid netted a senior regional Special Groups leader and ten others. According to the Iraqi press, two senior members of the Sadrist current were detained in the raid.

The senior Special Groups leader was captured in Hillah during a raid conducted by a joint Coalition Special Forces team and elements of Iraqi police. The leader is believed to be a regional commander of Special Groups teams in Wasit, Babil and Najaf provinces, as well as a coordinator for weapon shipments, and a planner and operational leader of attacks against Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition Forces. Eleven Special Groups operatives were reported captured in the raid.

Two of those captured were senior leaders in Muqtada al Sadr's political movement, according to Voices of Iraq. A raid by "joint Iraqi Scorpion forces and U.S. troops arrested Basim al Kilabi, the tribal affairs official at al Sadr's office, and ten others following a raid on one of Hilla's villages on Sunday," a member of Sadr's media office told the Iraqi newspaper. Also captured was Qassem al Fatlawi, another member of the Sadrist current.

While it is unclear if either Kilabi or Fatlawi are the captured senior Special Groups operative, it is likely Kilabi was the target of the raid. As tribal affairs officer, Kibali would have contacts cutting across the provincial boundaries, and his position would mask his movements and contacts.

The Special Groups was created by Iran's Qods Force, the special operations branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, to destabilize the Iraqi regime, strike at US and Coalition forces, and extend Iran's sphere of influence in southern and central Iraq. Iran established the Ramazan Corps as a sophisticated command structure to coordinate military, intelligence, terrorist, diplomatic, religious, ideological, propaganda, and economic operations. The Special Groups falls under Qods Force's Ramazan Corps.

. . . The US and Iraqi military commands have stepped up pressure on Sadr to extend the ceasefire beyond the February deadline by increasing raids on Mahdi Army and Special Groups operatives throughout central and southern Iraq.

Read the entire article.

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