Iraq announced plans Thursday to deploy 40,000 police and soldiers in the capital and ring the city with hundreds of checkpoints “like a bracelet” in the largest show of Iraqi force since the fall of Saddam Hussein.
In Baghdad, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari told a small group of Western reporters that next week’s planned crackdown, dubbed Operation Lightning, was designed “to restore the initiative to the government.” Insurgents have killed more than 620 people since his government was announced on April 28.
“We will establish, with God’s help, an impenetrable blockade surrounding Baghdad like a bracelet surrounds a wrist,” Defense Minister Saadoun al-Duleimi said.
Iraq currently has 89,400 security personnel attached to the Ministry of Interior, according to the U.S. military. This includes police, highway patrol and some commando units, although the figure may include some who have deserted. Another 75,800 forces are in the country’s military, most of them in the army.
Al-Jaafari said his government was working hard to recruit, train and equip its police and army, but still needed support from 160,000 foreign troops, including 138,000 from the United States, to deal with the raging insurgency.
American forces will back the Iraqis with logistical aid and air cover during Operation Lightning, according to the U.S. military.
Omar from Iraq the Model has more…
The minister of interior also gave a short briefing on the latest achievements of the operations carried out by the Iraqi forces between May 22 and May 26; he said that 578* suspects were arrested in Abu Ghraib, 4 large caches of weapons found, 118 vehicles prepared for car-bomb attacks were destroyed (between April 15 and May 26*) and 6 million dollars confiscated when a terror cell was arrested in Baghdad.
The last defense minister’s last words were “it’s time to move from defense to offense”.