Bill Ardolino has returned from Iraq, covering the events in Sadr City for the Long War Journal. Today he gives us an interesting slide show of operations in Sadr City. While that operation continues, the Maliki government stepped off its anticipated assault on al-Qaeda in Iraq in Mosul today, beginning house-to-house operations to clear the city of foreign terrorists. AQI got one last attack on a funeral before the Iraqi Army began its operation, killing 22 people:
In an attack that bore the group’s hallmarks, a suicide bomber Wednesday blew himself up in a funeral tent in a village west of Baghdad, killing 22 people and wounding 40, according to police Col. Faisal al-Zubaie.
The funeral for Taha Obaid, a primary school principal killed the previous day by gunmen, was attended by local U.S.-backed Sunni tribesmen fighting al-Qaida militants. It was not known how many of them were among the killed and wounded.
Obaid’s 3-year-old son was among those killed, said al-Zubaie.
Ardolino’s dispatches provide readers a close-up, first-hand account of the efforts in Sadr City and elsewhere in Iraq, similar to the work Bill Roggio has done for LWJ and Michael Yon does for his own site. All of these independent journalists rely on reader contributions, so be sure to donate through their tip jars as generously as possible. It takes thousands of dollars just to prepare for an embed mission, and the value of their reporting far exceeds the costs.
For instance, the AP report on the Mosul operation includes this nugget of Basra Narrative:
Al-Maliki’s trip to Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, is a repeat of a trip he made in late March to the southern city of Basra, where government troops fought radical Shiite militias to a standstill. That fighting later spread to Sadr City.
Sure, it was a standstill, if you consider Iraqi Army units securing and liberating the city a standstill. The Mahdis surrendered Basra and the entire south. The fighting “spread” to Sadr City because Nouri al-Maliki wants to rid the country of militias and enforce Iraqi authority throughout the nation. After years of attempting to get Moqtada al-Sadr to disband his militias and stop setting up his own Iranian-backed state within Iraq, the IA has finally gained enough strength to disarm Sadr.
Update: My apologies; I misunderstood Bill’s e-mail. He has returned from Iraq, and he kindly e-mailed me to clarify. He recommends this post, and remarks that the mainstream media has missed the extent to which the Mahdis have lost support over the last few years. In Baghdad, Bill couldn’t find anyone who supported Sadr.