You had probably heard about the increasing tension between Sunnis and foreign terrorists, but this piece that just moved is one of the more interesting, and promising, developments I’ve heard about lately:
Sunnis Revolt Against al-Qaida in Iraq
BAGHDAD (AP) – U.S. troops battled al-Qaida in west Baghdad on Thursday after Sunni Arab residents challenged the militants and called for American help to end furious gunfire that kept students from final exams and forced people in the neighborhood to huddle indoors.
Backed by helicopter gunships, U.S. troops joined the two-day battle in the Amariyah district, according to a councilman and other residents of the Sunni district.
The fight reflects a trend that U.S. and Iraqi officials have been trumpeting recently to the west in Anbar province, once considered the heartland of the Sunni insurgency. Many Sunni tribes in the province have banded together to fight al-Qaida, claiming the terrorist group is more dangerous than American forces.
Three more U.S. soldiers were reported killed in combat, raising the number of American deaths to at least 122 for May, making it the third deadliest month for Americans in the conflict. The military said two soldiers died Wednesday from a roadside bomb in Baghdad and one died of wounds inflicted by a bomb attack northwest of the capital Tuesday.
Lt. Col. Dale C. Kuehl, commander of 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, who is responsible for the Amariyah area of the capital, confirmed the U.S. military’s role in the fighting in the Sunni district. He said the battles raged Wednesday and Thursday but died off at night.
Although al-Qaida is a Sunni organization opposed to the Shiite Muslim-dominated government, its ruthlessness and reliance on foreign fighters have alienated many Sunnis in Iraq.
The U.S. military congratulated Amariyah residents for standing up to al-Qaida.
"The events of the past two days are promising developments. Sunni citizens of Amariyah that have been previously terrorized by al-Qaida are now resisting and want them gone. They’re tired of the intimidation that included the murder of women," Kuehl said.
A U.S. military officer, who agreed to discuss the fight only if not quoted by name because the information was not for release, said the Army was checking reports of a big al-Qaida enclave in Amariyah housing foreign fighters, including Afghans, doing temporary duty in Iraq.
U.S.-funded Alhurra television reported that non-Iraqi Arabs and Afghans were among the fighters over the past two days. Kuehl said he could not confirm those reports.