Monday :: Sep 5, 2005

Zarqawi Claims Control Of Western Iraqi Town A Week After Our Photo Ops There


by Steve

A week after a widely-publicized body count offensive by our forces in western Iraq, Al Qaeda has taken control of a key town near the Syrian border, and apparently we know nothing about it.

Abu Musab Zarqawi's foreign-led Al Qaeda in Iraq took open control of a key western town at the Syrian border, deploying its guerrilla fighters in the streets and flying Zarqawi's black banner from rooftops, tribal leaders and other residents in the city and surrounding villages said.
A sign newly posted at the entrance of Qaim declared, "Welcome to the Islamic Kingdom of Qaim." A statement posted in mosques described Qaim as an "Islamic kingdom liberated from the occupation."
U.S. Marine spokesman Capt. Jeffrey Pool in Ramadi, capital of the western province that includes Qaim, said Marines in the area of Qaim had no word of any unusual activity in Qaim. Numerous Marines are stationed near the town, although Marines said they were not involved in recent ground fighting between pro-government tribal fighters and Zarqawi's group.
According to Pool, the Iraqi government has no forces in Qaim.
U.S. Marines last week launched days of air strikes against suspected insurgent safe houses in the area, in some of the heaviest known uses of air power in recent months. A Sunni Arab tribe, the Albu Mahal tribe, simultaneously vowed to drive Zarqawi's fighters from the area, with the aid of the U.S. air strikes.

Yet, have these photo op campaigns helped the Iraqis control their own western border?

Many of the towns along the river have appeared to be heavily under the insurgents' domination, despite repeated Marine offenses along the river since May. Residents and Marines have described insurgents escaping ahead of the offensives, and returning when the offensives are over.
U.S. and Iraqi officials welcomed what they called signs that insurgents were losing support from their Sunni Arab base in the west. By the weekend, however, Zarqawi's forces had fought back and taken control of Qaim, residents said. Accounts from the town described a rare, prolonged overt presence of the foreign fighters.
Armed insurgent fighters loyal to the Jordanian-born Zarqawi openly traveled Qaim's streets. The fighters included both Iraqis and foreigners, including Afghans. The foreign-led fighters hung rooftops with Zarqawi's al-Qaeda banner of black backgrounds with a yellow sun.
Shops selling CDs, a movie theater and a women's beauty parlor were newly burned, apparently targeted by Zarqawi's group under its strict interpretation of Islamic law.

It’s been two and a half years since our invasion, and Rummy still hasn’t sealed the borders.

Steve :: 5:25 PM :: Comments (1) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!