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Iraq Report: Bombings in Karbala, Hit; AQI and the Adhamiya wall

Al Qaeda in Iraq was able to pull off two high profile suicide attacks in the past 24 hours, but both attacks occurred outside the Baghdad city limits. The most deadly strike occurred near a Shia holy shrine in the city of Karbala. Over 60 were killed and 170 wounded in the suicide strike. This is the second major bombing in Karbala in two weeks. Al Qaeda is clearly working to stoke a sectarian backlash by hitting near the Shia shrines in Karbala.

The other suicide attack occurred in the city of Hit in western Anbar province. Fifteen were killed and 25 wounded after a suicide bomber rammed into the home of the city's police chief. The police commander survived the attack, but 10 homes were leveled in the strike. Hit had seen a dramatic decrease in violence over the past two months as the local tribes formed a police force and established order.

The building of the security barrier, or "wall", around the Sunni neighborhood in Adhamiya is back on track. Dave Kilcullen, the Senior Counter-Insurgency Advisor for Multi-National Force Iraq, explains that Prime Minister Maliki re initiated the project after he was briefed on the need for the barrier and how the protests came about. "As I understand it, once the reasons for the project and the likely benefits in terms of lives saved were explained to the PM, he was happy for it to continue. I understand that the evidence of extremist manipulation was also a factor."

Mr. Kilcullen likened the barrier to an "urban tourniquet," and explained that the propaganda campaign to disrupt its construction came from none other than al Qaeda in Iraq. Omar Fahdil first reported this development early last week.

Coalition raids in Al Asad, Karma, Baghdad, Mosul and Balad Iraq netted 17 al Qaeda operatives on Saturday. Coalition air power also destroyed a truck bomb near the insurgent-riddled town of Karma in eastern Anbar province. A joint U.S. and Iraqi Army operation south of Baghdad resulted in the capture of two insurgents and the discovery of 3 IEDs and a weapons cache.

Muqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army and Iran's weapons network continue to be targeted. Coalition forces captured 4 Mahdi Army fighters in Sadr city during a raid on Saturday. Eight insurgents were captured during a raid in Mahmudiyah. Also discovered were "three caches containing mortar systems, rockets and ammunition... Soldiers of the unit examined the weapons, which were stamped with recent dates and Iranian markings."

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