Friday, October 31, 2014

Iraq Victory in Jurf al-Sakhar

WaPo reporter in Jurf al-Sakhar finds a destroyed town, signs of Iranian presence and no local population. It's not clear how many more such victories America's Sunni allies in the region can stomach

Iraq’s victory over militants in Sunni town () {

By = Loveday Morris
Date = October 29

A visit to the Sunni settlement Tuesday laid bare the huge cost of the victory. The town is now emptied of its 80,000 residents, and building after building has been destroyed — by airstrikes, bombings and artillery fire.

On Tuesday, hundreds of militiamen trundled out of Jurf al-Sakhar in trucks and buses, handing over control of the town and outlying villages and farms to Iraqi security forces... The Shiite forces could not remain in the area, militia commanders said. Their presence would only spark controversy and accusations of sectarian killings, they said. There already have been reports of revenge attacks in the aftermath of the Jurf al-Sakhar victory.

It was not hard to see why such reports were circulating. A convoy of trucks blaring religious music from loudspeakers drove out on a dusty road just north of the town. The men in the truck were jovial and flashed peace signs, but the decaying body of an alleged insurgent was being dragged behind the vehicle...


A local police officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to the media, said Iranian fighters were present on the battlefield, while a Washington Post employee heard Farsi being spoken at a military base.


The future of the town is unclear. None of its Sunni residents remain or are likely to return anytime soon. Those who had stayed in the town until last week were considered combatants, said Hassan Shakir Oda, a member of the provincial council and the Badr Brigade.

“We considered every family that stayed al-Qaeda or Daesh,” he said, referring to the Islamic State by its Arabic acronym. “If anyone against Daesh had stayed, Daesh would have killed them.”

“For now, it’s impossible that they come back,” he said.

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