Monday, January 29, 2007

250 down. . .

From The Washington Post:

BAGHDAD, Jan. 28 -- Iraqi soldiers, backed by U.S. helicopters, stormed an encampment of hundreds of insurgents hiding among date palm orchards in southern Iraq in an operation Sunday that set off fierce, day-long gun battles during the holiest week for the country's Shiite Muslims.

Iraqi security officials said the troops killed scores of insurgents while foiling a plot to annihilate the Shiite religious leadership in the revered city of Najaf. A U.S. helicopter crashed during the fighting, killing two soldiers.

The spokesman for Iraqi security forces in Najaf, Col. Ali Nomas Jerao, said that 250 suspected insurgents were killed in the fighting, which took place about eight miles northeast of Najaf, and that 40 people were detained. The U.S. military did not provide death tolls for Iraqi forces or insurgents.

Thousands of Shiite pilgrims from Iraq and neighboring countries are traveling this week in drum-beating caravans to the southern city of Karbala, 50 miles north of Najaf, in commemoration of the death of the prophet Muhammad's grandson in the 7th century. Iraqi authorities said they believed that the fighters, a diverse cadre of Sunni, Shiite, Afghan and other foreign gunmen, convened under cover of the pilgrims to set up a camp within striking distance of the Shiite religious leadership when attention was away from Najaf.

One battle does not a war win, or lose, but this is the way things are supposed to be going. As we train the Iraqi armed forces they become more and more able to mount this kind of operation with less and less support from American forces.

Slowly but surely the balance will shift with successes like this becoming more and more common and terrorist successes becoming more and more rare. Then one day we will look around and notice that the insurgency is simply gone.