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October 12, 2004
US Steps Up The Pressure On The Sunni Triangle

Joint Iraqi-American operations in Ramadi resulted in raids on several mosques to flush out terrorists, signaling an end to unilateral American respect for Muslim places of worship when used as military staging grounds:

Iraqi forces backed by U.S. soldiers and Marines raided mosques Tuesday in the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi and detained a prominent cleric following fierce clashes that hospital officials said killed at least four people. U.S. aircraft also rocketed a mosque northwest of Ramadi on Monday after insurgents opened fire from there on U.S. Marines, the command said.

The seven mosques targeted in Ramadi are suspected of supporting insurgents through a range of activities, including harboring terrorists, storing illegal weapons caches, promoting violence and encouraging insurgent recruitment, the U.S. command said.

Sheikh Abdul-Aleim Saadi, the provincial leader of the influential Association of Muslim Scholars, was detained at Mohammed Aref Mosque, his relatives and followers said.

US command has been careful not to use American troops to enter the mosques, allowing the Iraqis to do that themselves while Americans provide tactical support for the incursions. It demonstrates the new flexibility resulting from the training of an indigenous Iraqi security force, providing an option that simply didn't exist in Najaf until the end of the standoff with Moqtada al-Sadr.

More than that, this new operational latitude sends a clear message to the terrorists of the Sunni Triangle: You can't hide in the mosques any more. Up to now, the Ba'athist remnants and foreign nutjobs like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi relied on American reluctance to "defile" mosques by having infidels march into them, even though the enemy used the mosques themselves as sniper perches and bases for mortar fire at Coalition positions. Since Samarra, however, the US has made it clear that with Iraqi troops ready to clear out mosques, that reluctance has evaporated. And if the so-called insurgents didn't get the message from Samarra, today's action at the seven mosques of Ramadi will undoubtedly make it clear to all concerned.

In Southwest Asia, the people have long histories of aligning themselves with the parties that project power. If we are to plant democracy in the heart of the Middle East so that the people themselves will hold the power, we must show that we are unafraid to do what it takes to beat the Zarqawis and the Ba'athist remnants, who know how power politics work in the region. The new push to rout them from their strongholds sets the perfect pitch for demonstrating that the US expects to win and fights accordingly.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 12, 2004 4:58 AM

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Captain Ed, of Captain's Quarters blog, highlights a new tactic by US forces in Iraq where our forces are using the newly trained Iraqi forces as tactical fighters. US command has been careful not to use American troops to enter the mosques, allowi... [Read More]

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» "The Lunatic Fringe Wags The Underdog." - H.L. Mencken from Ipse Dixit
"The most dangerous madmen are those created by religion, and... people whose aim is to disrupt society always know how to make good use of them on occasion." - Denis Diderot, 1777 [Read More]

Tracked on October 12, 2004 10:21 AM

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