Less Car Bombs, More Attacks on US Military Transport on the Move

Wednesday, Aug. 8, the violent Sunni Ansar al-Sunna received guidance on how to counter the latest American security plan in Iraq. Its chiefs handed round a brand-new information booklet.

The lavishly-produced publication looked like a morale-booster for the al Qaeda-affiliated jihadists who have been hammered in recent weeks by US forces and by al Qaeda’s erstwhile allies, the Iraqi tribes who have gone over to the other side. But it also contains some hard-and-fast rules and tactics for combating the US security plan put into operation by Gen. David Petraeus, commander of US forces in Iraq.

According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military sources, Ansar al-Sunna’s 2,500 fighters are spread out in Baghdad, as well as in its southern outskirts up to Babil Province, northwest up to Ramadi and in the eastern Diyala province and its capital Baqouba.

A few units are thinly sprinkled around the southern edge of Kurdistan in the north.

Here are some of the points made in the booklet.

The main element of the American “surge” strategy, say the Islamist writers, is the carving up of Iraq into war zones quarantined from each other and placed under siege for the Americans to pound the fighters trapped inside.

This maneuver is implemented in the running American operation in the Sunni Amariya district of western Baghdad.

To obtain the siege effect, the Americans have encircled the district with a tall concrete wall breached by controlled, fortified entrances. Vehicular access is confined to a single road guarded by a series of roadblkocks. Residential areas inside the concrete wall have been divided into square blocks, in each of which Iraqi troops have taken up position on rooftops overlooking the streets and move from building to building. At any moment they can call up Iraqi or US reinforcements if necessary.

The Ansar al-Sunna fighters are warned against falling into the American net and being cornered in those blocks. They must focus on striking at US and Iraqi forces on the move outside the walled district and between the squared-off housing blocks.

For the time being, therefore, the jihadists are bade to abandon their car bombs and large-scale attacks and concentrate on scattering roadside bombs and planting mines on the routes frequented by US and Iraqi troops, in order to maximize their casualties.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military sources note that this switch in the al Qaeda affiliate’s tactics has been remarked since early July, when roadside bombs were seen to proliferate.

The Ansar booklet’s authors claim that after analysing the tactical thinking of American commanders (Gen. Petraeus and Lt. Gen. Ryamond T. Odierno), they have concluded that their objective is less victory and more gains for propaganda purposes to help President George W. Bush portray Iraq as a success story.

The Al Qaeda-linked radicals see the conflict from a completely different perspective. They judge that the most important result of the US-Iraqi campaign in Baghdad against al Qaeda, its affiliates and Sunni Arab insurgents, has been to pave the way for Iraqi Shiites to seize control of the capital.

Their advice now is for all Sunni radical forces to gird their strength for the big battle to come after the Americans are dealt with, for wresting control of Baghdad from the Shiites.

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