More unrest in Iraq; say didn’t we set a timetable for withdrawal here?? Hm-m-m…don’t suppose it could be related do you? The Shiite led government is chomping at the bit to have free reign and the Sunni‘s are tightening their ranks based on their tribal affiliations. Who could have seen that coming, huh? Oh yeah, the Bush administration…
BAGHDAD — U.S. and Iraqi troops exchanged gunfire Sunday with Sunni militants in central Baghdad in a second day of clashes following the arrest of a local leader of Sunni security volunteers who had broken with Al Qaeda.
Four people were killed and 15 wounded Saturday when fighting broke out after police arrested Adil al-Mashhadani, the head of an Awakening Council group in the Sunni neighborhood of Fadhil in the heart of the capital.
Five Iraqi soldiers were missing, possibly captured by Awakening Council fighters, a police officer said on condition of anonymity because he was not supposed to release the information.
Fighting tapered off Saturday evening. But an Associated Press photographer and a local shopkeeper said clashes erupted again Sunday morning, with both U.S. and Iraqi troops firing at Sunni gunmen.
Awakening Councils, or Sons of Iraq, are Sunni security volunteers who broke with Al Qaeda. They are now paid to supplement the army and police, helping guard their neighborhoods.
The rise of the Awakening Councils, which the Americans call Sons of Iraq, is considered a key step in turning the tide against the Sunni insurgency.
But Shiite political leaders have never fully trusted the Awakening Councils, many of whom were ex-insurgents.
Some Awakening Council leaders expressed fear that al-Mashhadani’s arrest could signal a crackdown on them by the Shiite-led government — a move that could send many volunteers back to the ranks of the insurgents.