Is this a crucial offensive? The New York Times' John Burns, reports that US Marines are taking the initiative in a rebel area south of Baghdad. Part of the strategy is to break the dominance of two tribal families:

"Under Mr. Hussein, the Janabis and the Kargoulis were richly rewarded. Their area was the base for Republican Guard units, munitions factories, weapons research establishments and battlefield testing grounds, as well as a host of new industrial plants and depots. After the Persian Gulf war in 1991, when a Shiite uprising across southern Iraq was met with brutal repression, parts of the area around Mahmudiya, Latifiya and Iskandariya, where Sunnis and Shiites mixed were subjected to a form of ethnic cleansing, with Shiites of military age rounded up and shot and their houses bulldozed to make way for new Sunni homes.

"After Mr. Hussein's downfall, American intelligence officers believe, powerful elements in the Janabi and Kargouli families became stalwarts of the resistance, and an insurgent axis developed that turned the region south of Baghdad into a powerful support base for the insurgent stronghold in Falluja."

"...American forces moved into this area as Baghdad fell, but a shortage of troops, and command decisions that limited offensives, led early this year to a situation in which much of the region became a rebel stronghold. Journeys through it became a deadly lottery, with daily bombings, ambushes and kidnappings.

"Just as the assault on Falluja last month signaled a turn to a more aggressive posture by the United States command, so too has the evolution of American tactics here.... Lt. Col. Mark A. Smith, the 2/24's commander, said the rebels were trying to open lines of retreat from Falluja. 'This is where the leadership of the insurgency have always lived, and now that they can't be in Falluja, they've got to come home,' he said. 'But our rule is, 'You ain't comin' home.' "
|||Clive|||http://clivedavis.blogspot.com/2004/12/with-marines-is-this-crucial-offensive.html|||12/06/2004 10:49:00 am|||||||||