Saturday, June 28, 2014

#Iraq Troops Mount Defense to Save Baghdad

At the Los Angeles Times, "Iraqi forces dig in to keep militants from capturing Baghdad":

If the Sunni Muslim insurgents lurking west of Baghdad decide to rush the Iraqi capital, Ahmed Ali knows the quickest route runs past his fruit stand.

Peering at the highway over mounds of watermelon and bananas, Ali watches Iraqi army pickup trucks and personnel carriers race by — headed, he hopes, toward a battle somewhere.

“I feel relief when I see them,” said Ali, a Shiite Muslim in his 50s who took refuge in Abu Ghraib this year after insurgents seized his village. “Somehow, I feel the security forces will protect me.”

Facing a methodical onslaught by an Al Qaeda splinter group and antigovernment militants, soldiers, police and Shiite militias are digging in around Baghdad and at strategic points outside the capital in a desperate bid to prevent the pillars of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki’s Shiite-dominated government from falling to the insurgents.

With the deployment of security forces, bolstered by tens of thousands of volunteer fighters, Iraqi military officials say, Baghdad is not in immediate danger of a major attack. U.S. officials are less certain. Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said this week that as the insurgents “continue to press into central and southern Iraq … they are still a legitimate threat to Baghdad.”

PREVIOUSLY: "#Iraq Army Mounts Counteroffensive in Tikrit, Mosul."