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IraqSide:Buzz
Archive: January 2009
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Intensive Operations in Hawija District; Irrigation Projects Open
By SLOGGER NETWORK 01/27/2009 3:14 PM ET
Google Earth image/IraqSlogger.com.

Residents of Hawija in western Kirkuk province identify a man shot dead, along with his wife, during a joint US-Iraqi raid on Saturday as Dhia Husayn.

Locals who identified the man to IraqSlogger add that Husayn was a former officer in the disbanded pre-2003 Iraqi Army. Husayn had been detained earlier and released just a month ago, residents said. Here's the MNF statement on the incident.

The raid on Husayn's house followed intensive Iraqi Police and Army operations in the Hawija area, residents say. Iraqi forces imposed curfews on villages around Hawija on Friday, and arrested at least 20 people on suspicion of activities linked to armed groups.

The day before, an IED exploded near Kirkuk's al-Nour al-Kabir mosque, killing a civilian and injuring another, locals say. Three cars parked nearby were also destroyed in the attack.

Kirkuk water officials held a public ceremony on Saturday for the opening of two dams for irrigation in agricultural areas of Kirkuk, attended by the visiting minister of water resources and provincial officials.

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Eyewitnesses Puzzled by Gun Battles with Unknown Attackers
By SLOGGER NETWORK 01/26/2009 8:11 PM ET
Google Earth image/IraqSlogger.com.

Iraqi forces inspected all elections centers inside the city of Mosul on Thursday, security sources told Slogger, as part of the security plan intended to protect polling places and the elections process for Saturday's provincial elections, to be held in 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces.

As elections campaigns proceed furiously in the northern province, locals in the al-Zanjali area report that the National Movement for Reform and Development held a campaign conference on Friday to advance their platform to local residents.

The day before, Iraqi officials held an elections awareness seminar, with the support of the UN's Iraq Trust Fund, in the town of Bartala. Iraqi and UN officials were present for the seminar, along with cultural leaders and elections observers nominated by the competing political entities. Participants told Slogger that the seminar explained the role of the Iraqi elections commission and efforts to ensure the integrity of the upcoming elections.

Unknown attackers

Residents of one Western Mosul district are still wondering about the cause of clashes that broke out last week. Gunmen battled Iraqi Army forces in the Mosul al-Jadida area for around 30 minutes before fleeing the scene on Wednesday, residents told Slogger. Armed men were seen running between houses and markets during the battle, but locals were unable to indentify the group affiliation of the fighters.

Meanwhile, students at Mosul University are confused about the murder of a classmate last week. On Tuesday, a student originally from the Talafar area of western Ninewa Province was murdered by unknown gunmen on Tuesday, students say. The identity and motive of the attackers are still unknown.

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Locals Say Assassination Victim Was Former Sadr Office Employee
By SLOGGER NETWORK 01/26/2009 4:13 PM ET
Sadr City residents suspect Mahdi Army militiamen in a weekend assassination operation in which a man was dragged from his car and shot dead in the eastern Baghdad district.

On Saturday evening, the victim, known to locals as Mr. Amer, was returning home from his workplace in the Jamila district on Saturday evening when gunmen in a BMW stopped his vehicle on al-Falah Street in Sadr City, forcibly removed him from the automobile, and shot him dead.

Local tell IraqSlogger that the victim was in fact a former employee of the Sadrist offices. Residents of Sadr City district said that the man had discovered criminal activity committed by members of the Mahdi Army, armed militia nominally loyal to the Sadrist Current. Amer quit his work with the Sadrist organization after protesting to the Sadr offices over Mahdi Army activity.

Sadr City residents suspect that the gunmen who murdered Mr. Amer were linked to the Mahdi Army, in response to his protest of improper Mahdi Army activities.

Locals say the men who carried out Saturday's attack are known Mahdi Army elements, and were easily recognized since they were not wearing masks during the assassination.

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Allegations of Improper Transfers; Attacks and Arrests in Contested City
By SLOGGER NETWORK 01/23/2009 5:43 PM ET

Missiles fell on Monday on the al-'Uruba area of Kirkuk city at 11:00 pm. Locals say that some houses were severely damaged, but no human causalities were reported. Iraqi National Police discovered two missile launchers nearby but could not discern the identity or purpose of the attackers.
Asayish allegations

Kurdish intelligence forces, known as Asayish, arrested two Arab residents of Kirkuk city on Monday, on charges of participating in crimes of kidnapping and murder. The detentions follow arrests of three other Arab residents on January 14 on similar charges. Arab residents allege that the detainees in both cases have been transported out of Kirkuk province into Kurdish detention facilities in Sulaymaniya province, inside the Kurdistan autonomous area of northern Iraq, as is often the case with Asayish detainees. Raids and attacks Raids last week netted suspects in villages around Kirkuk province, including al-Khabaz and al-Salhiya, security sources told Slogger. The Thursday morning operations led to at least 11 arrests of wanted suspects.

Also on Thursday, a citizen was rushed to the hospital in Kirkuk city with wounds sustained after a mortar shell fell near an official building at 10:00pm.

IED exploded on Saturday targeting a vehicle that was removing concrete barriers in the al-Rashad district, southwest of Kirkuk city. The wounded vehicle driver was transported immediately to the hospital.

Unknown bodies

Finally, Iraqi police forces discovered three unidentified corpses bearing close-range gunshot wounds in a rural area near the village of Tarklan on January 15. The bodies were transferred to forensics facilities for inspection.

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US Forces Find "Maps of Bases" in Raid; Activist Injured in BMW Crash
By SLOGGER NETWORK 01/23/2009 4:07 PM ET
Sources in the al-Iskan district of western Baghdad tell IraqSlogger that in spite of security improvements in the neighborhood, residents of one section of the area have complained over the continuing presence of security walls around their neighborhood.

Residents of Iskan's sector 625, in the eastern part of the district, opposite the offices of the electricity directorate, say that concrete barriers still restrict access to their area, constraining trade and access.

Openings in the barrier walls are only large enough to allow one person at a time to pass, severely restricting the movement of people and goods, according to residents' descriptions.

Activist hit by car

An Iraqi humanitarian activist was struck by an automobile on January 14 as she returned from elections workshops in southwestern Baghdad. A BMW pinned Su'ad al-Karkhi against the pavement at the Darwish crossing, breaking her arm.

Al-Karkhi, who had just participated in informational workshops on the upcoming elections in the al-Risala and al-I'lam areas, is the head of the al-Rasha organization, which provides support and medical care to Iraqi orphans, families, and injured persons.

Maps and weapons

US forces raided a house in the al-Amin area on Tuesday, security sources say, arresting four wanted persons.

American troops also seized sniper rifles, explosive devices and maps of American military installations from the house.
Members of IraqSlogger's network of Iraqi staff contributed to this report but choose to remain anonymous for security reasons.

A Hit-And Run in Sadr City?
01/22/2009 6:38 PM ET
File Photo: Iraqi Army Vehicles in Sadr City
Daniel W. Smith
File Photo: Iraqi Army Vehicles in Sadr City

BAGHDAD – Residents of Sadr City are claiming that an Iraqi Army vehicle was seen hitting a young girl, and then failed to stop. According to the claims, the driver “did not pay any attention to her,” and a bystander took her to the hospital in his car. Her identity and current condition has not been released.

An Iraqi Army official denied knowledge of the event.

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Rationing Kerosene, Treating Sewage: The Buzz from Nasiriya
01/21/2009 7:34 PM ET
Google Earth image/IraqSlogger.com.

Some buzz from Dhi Qar Province, gathered by Slogger's sources in Nasiriya, the provincial capital:

Elections plan

Last week US forces paid visits to Iraqi police centers in Dhi Qar province to review the security plans developed for the upcoming provincial elections, slated for January 31.

Kerosene rations

Local authorities have begun distributing kerosene rations to residents of the province, on the basis of the PDS food ration cards allocated to each household. Every cardholder can pick up 200 liters of kerosene, locals explain. Many Iraqis use that fuel for home heating in the colder months.

Treatment plant

On Thursday a water treatment plant opened in the in the al-Rifa'i area in the north of Dhi Qar province, residents report, while a local company also began work on a sewage improvement project in the area last week.

Deadly accident

A deadly car accident last Wednesday killed a group of Dhi Qar University students as they returned home, locals report, adding that others were injured in the crash. Further details were not available.

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Anbar University Hosts Seminar on Ills of Iraq's Growing Drug Problem
01/19/2009 5:15 PM ET
Google Earth image/IraqSlogger.com.

Eyewitnesses in Iraq's western Anbar Province told IraqSlogger that rockets fell on an American base near the Khan al-Baghdadi area, west of Ramadi last week. The missiles fell on the base on Thursday.

The same day, Iraqi government officials and educational workers attended a seminar at a major university in the province designed to spread information to combat the growing narcotics problem in Iraq. Anbar University organized the event in cooperation with the city of Ramadi. Sources that attended the program told IraqSlogger that the seminar covered the issue of narcotics in Iraq in its health, religious, social and legal implications, adding that high-level academic officials in the province were present along with local officials.

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New Fertility Clinic Announces First IVF-Conceived Birth Monday
01/16/2009 3:23 PM ET
Google Earth image/IraqSlogger.com.

Doctors in the Iraqi city of Najaf have announced the birth of the first child in the province to have been conceived in a process of in vitro fertilization, Slogger sources in the city report.

The al-Sadr Teaching Hospital in Najaf city, which opened an in-vitro clinic in 2008, has announced that the first IVF-conceived child was born at the hospital on Monday, according to Dr. Sahib al-Murshidi, a professor at Kufa University and surgeon specializing in urology and fertility issues, and the director of the new IVF center at al-Sadr Hospital.

Dr. al-Murshidi added that the birth was the first successful in vitro conception performed in central and southern Iraq, saying that the hospital would seek to widen its fertility services in the coming months.

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Local Administration Intends Duty-Free Area for Province, Deputy Gov. Says
01/15/2009 3:09 PM ET
Google Earth image/IraqSlogger.com.

Local officials in the Iraqi province of Najaf have announced their intention to create a free trade area inside the province.

Residents of Iraq's Najaf Province report that the deputy governor of the province, Abd al-Husayn 'Abtan, announced to local media earlier in the month that the provincial administration intended to create a trading zone in the province free of duties on international business in order to attract economic activity.

The Najaf government, which is leading a campaign to transform Najaf into a regional hub of business and tourism, including a recently opened international airport, capitalizing on the city's importance as a major site of Shi'a religious learning and pilgrimage.

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Rivals' Elections Posters Replaced with Pro-Sadr, Anti-America Slogans
01/14/2009 5:28 PM ET
Google Earth image/IraqSlogger.com.

Eyewitnesses in southwestern Baghdad district of al-Risala observed a group of apparent supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr tearing down electoral posters of rival parties and writing pro-Sadr and anti-America graffiti in their place.

The young men in the mixed area of Risala removed election posters promoting several other political blocs and in their place painted graffiti slogans supporting the Sadrist trend and opposing the US presence in Iraq, eyewitnesses told IraqSlogger.

Among the slogans daubed in white paint in place of the electoral posters: "Long Live al-Sadr!" and "No to America!"

Eyewitnesses were more surprised to see the young men also paint the name of Muntadar al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist famous for throwing his two shoes at US president George Bush last month. Al-Zaidi remains in Iraqi custody, where family members have alleged that he has been tortured and beaten. While al-Zaidi is not reportedly affiliated with the Sadrist trend, his action drew praise and support from Iraqi political factions across the spectrum that are opposed to the American presence in Iraq.

Provincial elections are scheduled for January 31 in 14 of Iraq's 18 governorates. The defacing and removing of rival groups' electoral posters is not limited to the Sadrist trend, which is not even running its own candidates in a formal bloc in these elections. Tearing down or plastering over rival groups' posters appears to be a common around the country. Some rumors even point to organized activity by political parties to target rivals' campaign materials.

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Connected Parties Get Away with Violations; Mobile Internet Opens in Amara
01/12/2009 3:33 PM ET
Google Earth image/IraqSlogger.com.

Residents of Maysan Province, southwest of Baghdad, suspect political favoritism in the application of Iraqi election laws

The IHEC office in Maysan Province announced earlier that it had created 22 teams to monitor any violations of the campaign laws in the province.

Salah al-Na'im, the spokesman for the IHEC Maysan office said that the teams would monitor any campaign-related infractions, saying that the monitors would generate lists of campaign violations, noting the offending entity, and refer the case to Baghdad for legal proceedings.

However, residents of Amara city report that certain parties seem to be immune to the enforcement of elections laws forbidding the use of public buildings, schools, government offices, and mosques to hang campaign posters.

Locals report that parties with links to the governing coalition of Iraq's federal government are placing their literature in forbidden areas with seeming impunity. The parties concerned include the Reform Current led by former Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Ja'fari, the Shahid al-Miharab organization linked to the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq of Abd al-'Aziz al-Hakim, and the State of Law coalition headed by Iraq's current Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Mobile Internet Meanwhile, the Itisaluna communications company opened wireless telephone and internet service in the provincial capital of Amara last week, locals report. The company signed a contract with the provincial government in June of last year to implement the service in all of the province.

Sulayman al-Mu'ani, the head of Itisaluna's Maysan office said that services cost 125,000 Iraqi dinars for the wireless device and one cent for one minute of use. Al-Mu'ani added that "during the coming months all areas of the province will be covered by this service after the installation of antennas is complete."

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Baghdad Command Orders Concrete Walls Removed in Dora
By SLOGGER NETWORK 01/07/2009 8:00 PM ET
IraqSlogger.com.



Iraqi workers removed blast walls in the Baghdad district last week on the orders of Iraq's Baghdad command. While criminal and armed activity in Dora has not ended, Iraqi commanders have decided that the security situation in the former militant stronghold is stable enough to begin removing some of the blast walls that controlled movement in the area.

Residents of Dora note that the street where these concrete barriers are being removed links to the Dora Refinery complex, the major petroleum distiller for Baghdad, as well as to the main popular market in the area.

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