Sgt. Jeff Lowry
24th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
BAGHDAD — Iraqi and Coalition forces joined this week to squelch the violence in Ameriya, a key neighborhood in west Baghdad, as part of a city-wide operation known as Amaliya Ma’an ila Al-Amam or Operation Together Forward. “The purpose was to eliminate terrorists and death squads in and around Ameriya,” said Iraqi army Brig. Gen. Abdul Jaleel in a press conference Wednesday.
Jaleel is the commander of 1st Brigade, 6th Iraq Army Division. The unit took the lead in a recent sweep of the town with the U.S. 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division as support. The Iraqi and Coalition forces searched about 6,000 houses and buildings in the Ameriya neighborhood, said Jaleel. The local citizens requested the market area be secured first. “We re-opened shops that had been closed and a neighborhood gas station,” he said.
The 2nd Brigade Combat Team commander, Col. Robert Scurlock Jr., re-iterated Jaleel’s point, noting that people are returning to the streets. “More than 50 percent of the shops have re-opened,” Jaleel said. Jaleel and Scurlock see the market as a way to repair the neighborhood that was torn apart by violence.
“We want to get the stores open and get people back to a normal life,” said Scurlock. He credited his fellow troops for helping to restore peace in Ameriya. “It’s the dedication of Iraqi soldiers and their professionalism and sharing information with Coalition forces,” said Scurlock. According to Scurlock, eight arrests were made and 128 weapons seized. “We’re making progress,” he said. Jaleel and Scurlock felt that most of the sectarian violence was caused by people who do not live in Ameriya.
Iraqi and Coalition presence is enough to deter violence here, said Scurlock. He also said there has not been one death since Together Forward operations began in Ameriya. During the press conference the duo took many questions asking whether Iraq was fighting a civil war. “From my point of view as an Iraqi, we have never had a sectarian war or a civil war,” said Jaleel, who is a Shiite Muslim and whose wife is a Sunni Muslim. Sunni and Shi’a Muslims might seem on divergent paths, but if Ameriya could be an example they might move forward together. “With unity and security, there will be prosperity,” said Scurlock.