New security operation against Iraqi insurgents

IRAQI forces have launched a new security operation against insurgents in the Baghdad area.

Operation Thunder will be carried out in several stages, an Iraqi brigade commander who asked not to be named said yesterday.

“We have set up an operations room between the army, police and friendly forces,” he said.

In the first phase of the operation in western Baghdad, security forces captured “50 terrorists, two of them Syrian citizens”, the commander said.

The second stage of the operation will begin in Baghdad in the next few days. He refused to say whether it will be east of the Tigris, an area that has witnessed an increasing number of attacks including last week’s suicide car bomb in the New Baghdad area that killed 27 people, including 18 children.

He said the operation in western Baghdad had reduced the number of attacks by 75%. Western Baghdad includes hotspot areas such as Haifa street, Amiriyah, Ghazaliyah, and Jihad.

Operation Thunder is a continuation of Operation Lightning that began on May 28 and ended last week, he said. More than 40,000 Iraqi police and soldiers, backed by US forces, have taken part in Operation Lightning, which set up hundreds of checkpoints in and around the capital.

Meanwhile, insurgents killed 18 police and government workers in a series of shootings across central Iraq yesterday.

Insurgents killed eight policemen in a gun battle in the western Baghdad neighbourhood of Khadra, police said. It was not clear if any insurgents were killed.

Gunmen also killed six police officers, including a colonel, in five attacks in Baghdad, police and hospital officials said yesterday.

Another policeman died in a shoot out between insurgents and security forces just north of Baghdad in Taji, police said.

A police colonel was fatally shot while driving his car in Samarra, 60 miles north of the capital, according to police Capt Laith Mohammed.

In a visit to Berlin, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers, said a recent spike in suicide bombings in Iraq wouldn’t derail the drafting of a new constitution or progress toward democracy. But he warned of more violence ahead.

“Every major milestone has been met. That will continue, in my belief, to happen,” Gen Myers said.

Insurgents also attacked government employees yesterday, killing a worker for the Iraqi Trade Minister in the southern neighbourhood of Dora.

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