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Daily Iraq Report for March 10, 2007

The 'where's Muqtada al-Sadr' saga continues as reports he gave a speech in Karbala last week have failed to stand the test of time. While Sadr's media mouthpiece Nahrain Network claimed he was in Karbala, some of his officials have denied Sadr was present, reports IraqSlogger. "'Slogger sources were also unaware of any appearance by the cleric, which, they say, would not have gone unnoticed by the residents of the city." Sadr has been spotted in Qom being guarded by the members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps.

In an effort to undermine Sadr's power, Iraqi and U.S. forces are maintain the pressure on his Mahdi Army. Special Iraqi Army Forces conducted a raid in Sadr City today against "a rogue element of [Jaysh Al-Mahdi] allegedly responsible for coordinating and carrying out numerous kidnappings and murders of Iraqi civilians" and "implicated in conducting improvised explosive device attacks targeting Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces in the area." Six were detained in the raid. Also, joint forces arrested Husayn al-Asadi, "a prominent commander" of the Mahdi Army," along with several members of the Iraqi Police who are involved in death squad activities.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq continues to target Sadr City in an attempt to reignite the sectarian violence that plagued the nation for the past year. The Iraqi Army soldiers stopped a car bomber targeting an army checkpoint, but not before he blew up the vehicle. The bomber killed 10 and wounded 43 in the attack. The last three major suicide attack attempts in Baghdad have been disrupted by Iraqi and Coalition security forces.

Despite numerous reports that Abu Omar al-Bagdadi, the leader of al-Qaeda's political front organization the Islamic State of Iraq, was arrested yet again this week, he remains on the loose. For the third time this week, he was reported captured by the Iraqi Interior Ministry. And for the third time this week, Baghdadi's capture turned out to be untrue. On March 4th, Baghdadi was reportedly captured in Duluiya in Salahadin province. Baghdadi was then reported to have been captured in the Dora neighborhood Baghdad on March 5th. Yesterday, Baghdadi was reported to have been captured in Abu Ghraib, just west of Baghdad.

The Iraqi Interior Ministry has now denied the latest claim, however a senior al-Qaeda leader was arrested during a raid in Abu Ghraib. "After preliminary investigations, it was proven that the arrested al-Qaida person is not Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, but, in fact, another important al-Qaida official," said Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Mousawi, the Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman. "Interrogations and investigations are still under way to get more information." The March 5th raid in Duluiya is said to have netted Abdullah Latif al-Jaburi - aka Abu Abdullah - the second in command of the Islamic State in Iraq. Announcements on the capture of death of senior al-Qaeda and insurgent leaders should be taken with a healthy does of skepticism.

Iraqi and Coalition forces have killed 1 and captured 27 members of al-Qaeda in Iraq over the past 24 hours during raids in Taji, Ramadi and Mosul. The Taji operation netted 18 captured and 1 killed alone, including "an alleged member of the al-Qaeda associated Islamic State of Iraq."

Twenty-three insurgents were captured in the Rasheed district in southern Baghdad, where IraqSlogger sources claim there are no security forces operating and Sunni insurgents rule. The neighborhoods mentioned are directly adjacent to Baghdad International Airport. One Iraqi Army Brigade, two Iraqi National Police Brigades, and 4 U.S Army combat battalions are currently operating in the Rasheed (Rashid) region.

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