Saturday, July 10, 2004

Iraqi army takes initiative.

Last Wednesday I was at the hospital just as any other day. It was an ordinary morning and everything seemed quite except for 2 American helicopters that was patrolling above us. There was nothing abnormal in that but I noticed that they were flying at an altitude lower than usual sometimes maneuvering in between the buildings of the medical center just at the eastern bank of the tigris.

I didn’t expect anything serious as it’s been a while since we heard serious fighting at these hours of the day. Even the gun shots that we could hear frequently at night has considerably decreased in their frequency lately. However you could hear several explosions everyday without any particular timing.

Suddenly and out of no where fire was opened heavily on the other side of the river just in front of our eyes and we saw people running in every direction trying to take shelter. It was unfamiliar at this time of the day but I thought it won’t take long before it gets quite again, but as minutes passed the gun fire kept being heard and grew lauder and was followed by sounds of several mortar shells and RPGs exploding everywhere.

From the sounds I heard I thought that it was a confrontation between terrorist and IP or Iraqi army since the only heavy fire you could hear was that of mortars and RPGs. The strange thing was that it took this long, as after nearly an hour the fighting was still going on and getting more fierce. One of these bombs, and I guess it was a mortar shell, even crossed the river to land about a hundred meter away from our hospital causing the whole building to shake strongly.

All these events made me and the others wonder what was going on. it can’t be a terrorist attack because these thugs usually cut and run whether they faced resistance or not. They come after a certain target and after blowing it up they flee away fearing the response.
Why are they still fighting?
Where is the American support?
Could it be that these terrorists are trapped?
Why are they so confused to shoot in this random way?

My father happened to be at the area where the fighting ensued and he told me later that as he was driving in Haifa Street, a man armed with an AK47 jumped into the street and started shooting into the air! My father rushed back with his car from where he came but he found the entrance blocked with units of the Iraqi National Guard and he barely got away from that place.

After more than an hour of what seemed to be a fierce fighting, 2 American helicopters came in and kept flying above that area but they didn’t open fire. I remember hearing heavy machine guns only once and I think it was American. Few minutes later it was quite again with sporadic shooting every few minutes. I kept thinking about this and it didn’t make sense to me at the beginning as it didn’t simulate any other fighting I saw or heard in the past few weeks. I asked my friends about what they thought and whether they heard anything about it but no one had an explanation to what happened.

The only thing that I thought was logical is that it was a trap or a very well planned attack but I couldn’t tell who was trapped and who was the trapper but I favored the possibility of the Iraqi army attacking the Ba’athists and terrorists who took shelters in Haifa Street’s building although I had a difficulty in imagining that the Iraqi army was already strong enough to take the initiative instead of keep defending its places.

A friend of mine who his relative work in the Iraqi army told me later that it was indeed a trap carried by units of the Iraqi National Guard against the terrorists in that area and that dozens of those thugs were killed and others were arrested. I didn’t really take that to be the exact truth since I didn’t hear or see anything in the local or foreign news to support this story and I’ve seen so many “eyewitnesses” on Al Jazeera and other channels tell stories that only a fool can buy and that appeared to be just lies or exaggerations.

It appeared that my guess and what my friend told me was right as yesterday it was announced that it was a very well planned attack carried by the Iraqi national Guard and resulted in killing and capturing several terrorists. Here’s Al Sabah story:

In an operation to attack dens of terrorism in Baghdad, a platoon of the Iraqi National Guard has carried out a successful operation Wednesday against groups of Saddam's remnants and a number of Al- Zarqawi followers who were gathered in four buildings in the said street. That operation comes as a practical indication to transfer the initiative of the attack to the hand of the National Guard." An accurate intelligence information reported a group of Saddam's men and Al- Zarqawi followers were crowded in four buildings in Haifa street " Mr. Hazim Sh'lan the minister of defense elaborated, adding that the operation started in installing search points in front of these buildings for instigating the hostile elements who thought they could control the battalion of the national guard. Clarifying the details of the operation, the minister said that the battalion was able to be sheltered and specify the hostile fire sources further for cordoning the four buildings in pure Iraqi efforts, saying that the multi –national forces took the role of the monitor by the helicopters. Fighting were occurred from floor to another, from flat to another, about 19 terrorists killed and nine others arrested. Meanwhile one member of the National Guard was killed and 12 others wounded. Among the prisoners and dead were a number of Arab infiltrators.

-By Ali.

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