AFP: Iraqis push Al Qaeda out of last stronghold in Baghdad

That would be Adhamiya, which was seeing surge operations before the surge formally got started, then seeing improvement in April, and now after two years finally bids adieu to Al Qaeda. The good news: It was Iraqis who did it, not U.S. troops. The bad news: By “Iraqis,” I don’t mean the army or police force.

An armed Sunni group has ended Al-Qaeda’s tight two-year grip on north Baghdad’s volatile Adhamiyah neighbourhood and is now in control, an AFP correspondent witnessed on Friday.

A local militia calling itself the “revolutionaries of Adhamiyah” took over the Sunni district on the east bank of the Tigris on November 10 in a swift and audacious raid that sent Al-Qaeda fleeing from its last stronghold in Baghdad.

On Friday, members of the “revolutionaries of Adhamiyah” controlled main roads into the neighbourhood as well the square housing the famous Abu Hanifa mosque where Saddam Hussein made his last public appearance before fleeing Baghdad in 2003 as US-led forces invaded the country…

“Our men seized 11 car bombs and discovered several clandestine bomb-making workshops,” said the chief of the “revolutionaries of Adhamiyah”, surrounded by armed bodyguards.

Note what he says at the end of the piece about success being contagious. This report, from the usually relentlessly grim McClatchy, is also notably upbeat. Read it and savor the anecdotes it offers about the returning (fleeting?) normalcy; the statistical prism through which the surge’s success is typically viewed doesn’t allow for such human details. The piece also notes that Adhamiya never shows up on Baghdad’s new favorite TV show; perhaps that’s about to change.

When you’re done reading that, watch this and see what the price is.

Update (Bryan): Earlier this week I interviewed CPT Aaron Kaufman of the US 1st Infantry. He just returned from Adamiyah where he commanded an armor company. Here’s that interview. He backs up the reports that al Qaeda has been pushed out of Adamiyah with help from the locals and Iraqi security forces.