It’s in Amiriyah, the same neighborhood where the Islamic Army of Iraq and AQ went toe to toe last Thursday. I wondered in a later post about whether reports of U.S. gunships in the area meant we were effectively fighting on the side of insurgents against Al Qaeda.

And so we are:

U.S. forces have begun conducting joint patrols with Sunni resistance fighters in the Sunni enclave of Amiriyah where a group of local leaders have banded together to fight al-Qaeda, U.S. Army officials said Tuesday.

Major Chris Rogers, executive officer of the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division, responsible for Amiriyah, said soldiers acting on information provided by the fighters had detained five suspected al-Qaeda members in overnight raids and were holding them for questioning.

He said the group had decided it did not want to be known as ‘the Baghdad Patriots’ the name given to it by U.S. forces.

“They decided they want to be called freedom fighters,” Rogers said.

The neighborhood is quiet now, the internecine jihad having metamorphosed and become … an Internet flame war. Yes, really.

Here’s the latest from CNN about the Sunni backlash against AQ. We’re dealing with some mighty “interesting” characters here to flush out the jihadists, but it’s our best option at this point. Meanwhile, the Iraqi parliament granted itself the power today to veto any extension of a U.S. troop presence beyond the December 31st deadline. That’s not quite what the Sadrists were after last month, where they circulated a bill to impose a timetable for withdrawal, but it’s a step in that direction. Voting in favor: 85 MPs, including Sadr’s people and some of the shadier Sunnis. Voting against: 59, including most of the Kurds. Not present: 131.