L’offensiva in Irak si scontra con una ondata di nuova violenza dei ribelli

<107130147"> Irak, guerra, fazioni, Usa NYT 05-05-30

<107130148"> L’offensiva in Irak si scontra con una ondata di nuova violenza dei ribelli


<107130149"> L’Organizzazione Badr, ala armata del Consiglio Supremo per la Rivoluzione Islamica , sarebbe l’ispiratrice della nuova linea dura del governo iracheno.

L’operazione militare più importante condotta dal nuovo governo a maggioranza sciita, presentata come nuova fermezza politica contro i ribelli arabo-sunniti, ha incontrato una forte resistenza, prima a Baghdad e poi in tutto il paese.

La battaglia più sanguinosa è stata combattuta nei distretti di Abu Ghraib, Amariya e Khudra, ai confini occidentali di Baghdad. Gli insorti hanno colto di sorpresa le forze governative, costrette a chiedere appoggio agli americani, con elicotteri di attacco Apache armati di missili.

Già prima di questi combattimenti, il governo del primo ministro Ibrahim al-Jafaari aveva dato il via a un novo corso, dichiarando di passare dalla difesa all’attacco, per mostrare di essere in grado di garantire al sicurezza.

Il governo iracheno aveva dichiarato di voler impegnare 40000 soldati e paramilitari, in realtà non ne disporrebbe in totale più di 30 000.

L’operazione iniziata sabato è decisa da un governo guidato da due partiti religiosi, con forti legami con l’Iran, che comanda un nuovo esercito addestrato dagli americani e forze di polizia paramilitari in gran parte sciiti, contro ribelli quasi interamente arabo-sunniti.

È opinione tra la popolazione che gli attacchi dei governativi di Baghdad siano stati ispirati e condotti dall’Organizzazione Badr, una milizia ombra fondata in Iran, derivante da uno dei due partiti sciiti al governo, il Consiglio Supremo per la Rivoluzione Islamica in Irak.

Il gruppo Badr ha combattuto con l’Iran durante la guerra Iran-Irak degli anni 1980.

NYT 05-05-30

<106535242"> Iraqi Offensive Met by Wave of New Violence From Insurgents


BAGHDAD , Iraq, May 29 – The largest Iraqi-led counterinsurgency operation since the downfall of Saddam Hussein set off a violent backlash on Sunday across Baghdad. At least 20 people were killed in the capital, 14 of them in a battle lasting several hours when insurgents initiated sustained attacks on several police stations and an army barracks.

The violence, including at least four suicide car bombings, was a bloody start to an operation that Iraq’s new Shiite-majority government had presented as a new get-tough policy toward Sunni Arab insurgents, first in Baghdad and then countrywide. The government has said it will commit 40,000 uniformed Iraqis to the Baghdad operation in an effort to crush insurgents who reacted to the government’s swearing-in four weeks ago with one of the war’s biggest rebel surges.

The Baghdad toll was part of another day of bloodshed across Iraq . In total, at least 34 people were killed, including a British soldier caught by a roadside bombing near the town of Kahla that broke a protracted period of calm in the Shiite-dominated south.

A statement from the Second Marine Expeditionary Force said a marine was killed Saturday when his vehicle hit a roadside bomb near Haqlaniya, about 90 miles northwest of Baghdad.

At least initially, the crackdown in Baghdad appeared to have been met by a stiff, coordinated response that brought the toll to about 700 from the intensified rebel attacks this month. The heaviest battle raged across the districts of Abu Ghraib, Amariya and Khudra on the capital’s western edge.

In the space of 30 minutes in midafternoon, the insurgents answered attempts by government forces to cordon off the districts with a sequence of attacks. They appeared to catch Iraqi forces by surprise, and prompted commanders to call for backup from American troops garrisoned nearby . Iraqi witnesses said Apache attack helicopters with loaded missile racks swooped overhead as the insurgent attacks flared into protracted gun battles below.

Even before the fighting on Sunday, the government of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari appeared to have opened a new and potentially hazardous chapter in the war. Announcing the crackdown last week, government officials said the operation would move Iraqi troops “from the defensive to the offensive” in the war, and show Iraqis that the leaders they elected in January were capable of providing the security that just about every opinion poll in recent months has shown is their highest priority.

But the operation met with skepticism even before it started.

For one thing, few believed the government could commit the 40,000 soldiers and paramilitary police officers it had promised, since the American command’s latest official count of the number in Baghdad Province, reaching deep into the countryside beyond the capital itself, totaled only slightly more than 30,000. Many Iraqis said they suspected that the government was overstating its abilities in the hope of stemming rising popular anger in the face of the new insurgent offensive.

There has been another fear, one rooted in the country’s shifting political landscape. Essentially, the operation begun Sunday involves a government led by two religious parties with strong ties to Iran, commanding new American-trained army and paramilitary police forces that are heavily Shiite, taking on an insurgency that is almost entirely Sunni Arab.

The potential for a further sharpening of sectarian tensions has been unavoidable, despite assurances by Dr. Jaafari that the Shiite leaders intend to govern in a way that draws Iraq’s religious and ethnic communities together.

The concern appeared to be at least partly born out on Sunday, as truckloads of Iraqi soldiers and police officers in camouflage fanned out across the city, setting up checkpoints and moving in force through neighborhoods long known as insurgent strongholds, raiding homes and carrying away suspects.

One man in Amariya telephoned The New York Times to say that people in his neighborhood believed that the sweeps were inspired and led by the Badr Organization, a shadowy militia group founded in Iran that is an offshoot of one of the two governing Shiite religious parties, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

The belief is a potentially explosive one among Sunni Arabs, especially hard-liners who remember the Badr group for its role fighting alongside Iran in the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980’s. In interviews, some of these hard-liners have said they view the new government as an Iranian implant, open to the influence of the ayatollahs in Tehran. American officials here say that persuading Sunni Arabs that this is not so is crucial to building a democracy and avoiding a slide into civil war.

The reactions in Amariya suggested that even moderate Sunni Arabs were wavering in the face of the new government’s sweeps. The man who telephoned The New York Times, a former officer who had fought in the war against Iran, said that he voted in January’s elections, defying a Sunni Arab boycott, and that he had called a government hot line to
report insurgent activities in his area. But on Sunday, he said his feelings were with the insurgents. “The general attitude out here is that all this tension is caused by the Badr Organization and Iran ,” the man said.

The rebel attacks included a suicide car bombing at an Iraqi-manned checkpoint in Abu Ghraib , the district best known for the prison that holds many of the 14,000 insurgency suspects held in American custody across Iraq . Another suicide car bomber attacked an Iraqi paramilitary police patrol in a residential district of Amariya, east of the sprawling Camp Victory complex that serves as the American military headquarters in Iraq. Gunmen also attacked a police station in Khudra, a neighborhood adjoining Amariya, according to Interior Ministry officials.

The most daring assault appeared to have been a sustained attack on the detention center run by the Interior Ministry’s major crimes unit in Amariya , where suspected insurgents are held before being moved to Abu Ghraib. The ministry said the assault there involved at least 50 insurgents firing rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and machine guns. According to an unconfirmed account by an Amariya resident who was reached by telephone, insurgent bands roaming the district after the battle claimed to have captured weapons from the detention center’s armory.

An official at the Interior Ministry’s operations center said 14 people had been killed in the Amariya fighting alone, including 3 insurgents, 4 policemen and 7 civilians.

Other victims of insurgent attacks in the capital on Sunday included two security guards killed when a suicide bomber tried to ram a Volkswagen sedan through the gates of the heavily fortified Oil Ministry complex in eastern Baghdad, and two policemen killed in a drive-by shooting in the Dora district in southwestern Baghdad, a notorious insurgent stronghold. Two more policemen died in a suicide bombing at dusk in the Zeiouniya district of eastern Baghdad.

Elsewhere, nine policemen were killed in an insurgent ambush near the town of Yusufiya in a restive Sunni Arab area about 10 miles south of Baghdad, according to an Iraqi doctor at a hospital nearby. A car bombing at Madaen, about 15 miles southeast of Baghdad, killed two police commandos, according to a police commander in the town. A police commander in the northern city of Tuz Khurmato, about 60 miles south of Kirkuk, said a suicide car bomber there killed two civilians after detonating his vehicle near the local headquarters of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, a partner in the new government in Baghdad.

Sabrina Tavernise and Iraqi employees of The New York Times contributed reporting for this article.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times

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