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June 14, 2006
Baghdad Crackdown Gets Results

Iraqi forces set out to crack the country's toughest security problem in a mission launched today, and the early returns look promising. CNN reports that the security forces freed hostages and captured several terrorists as the violence dipped in the Iraqi capital:

Iraqi troops Wednesday uncovered a kidnapping ring, seized weapons -- including three rockets -- and defused two roadside bombs after beginning a security clampdown on the often lawless streets of Baghdad.

In the first day of the new government's push to restore order in the capital, Iraqi troops also enforced a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. and issued a weapons ban for civilians.

Four insurgents were detained at one checkpoint after three people emerged from a car "screaming for help," said Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad.

"We found eight people that had been kidnapped now for four days that we were able to return back under control of the Iraqi government," Caldwell said. "They worked for an electrical company down south of Baghdad."

The Maliki government announced that 70,000 troops would deploy across the city to bring an end to the violence and lawlessness that has kept Baghdad on edge ever since liberation. George Bush announced lower numbers: 26,000 troops combined with 23,000 police officers, plus 7,200 American troops working in support roles. The Iraqis sported new uniforms today in order to distinguish themselves from militia and from terrorists who have often impersonated Iraqi security forces in their attacks.

The results look promising. The rescue of hostages signals a new phase in which kidnappers face real consequences for their actions. Too often hostages have resulted in paid ransoms, and captures of kidnappers have been too infrequent, making the risk-reward ratio dangerously skewed in favor of the criminals and/or terrorists. Weapons confiscated will be easily replaced, unfortunately, from the vast caches left over from Saddam's regime, but finding and defusing roadside bombs shows real skill and tenacity by a still-green security force.

The Iraqis have a good start in Baghdad. Apparently, the tough curfew and the rapid deployment of the security and police forces caught some off guard, and that will put them on the defensive. The Iraqis need to keep them on the run to clean up Baghdad and allow for the rebuilding effort that will hopefully transform the city into a safer and more stable environment.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 14, 2006 7:13 PM

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