May 31, 2007


West Baghdad residents rise up against Al Qaeda (The Associated Press, May 30, 2007)

Heavy fighting raged Thursday in west Baghdad where residents reported U.S. troops backed by helicopter gunships moved in when residents called for American help against al-Qaida intimidation that kept students away from final exams and the people huddled indoors to escape blazing gunfire.

U.S.-funded Alhurra television reported that non-Iraqi Arabs and Afghans were among the fighters. Residents said the gunbattles first erupted Wednesday. [...]

"The events of the past two days are promising developments. Sunni citizens of Amariyah that have been previously terrorized by al-Qaida are now resisting and want them gone. They're tired of the intimidation that included the murder of women," [Lt. Col. Dale C. Kuehl, Commander of 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment] said. [...]

The heaviest fighting shuttered through the neighborhood at 11 a.m. when gunmen — identified by residents as al-Qaida fighters — began shooting randomly into the air, forcing residents to flee into their homes and students from classrooms.

They said the fighters drove through the streets using loudspeakers to claim that Amariyah was under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq, an al-Qaida front group.

Armed residents were said to have resisted, set some of the al-Qaida gunmen's cars on fire and called the Americans for help.

Casualty figures were not immediately available. But a district councilman said the al-Qaida leader in the Amariyah district, known as Haji Hameed, was killed and 45 other fighters were detained.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 31, 2007 7:36 PM
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