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The Iraq Report IV

The battle for Diyala.

12:00 AM, May 7, 2007 • By KIMBERLY KAGAN
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Diyala province has become one of the central battlegrounds between the Coalition and al Qaeda. Its capital, Baqubah, is just a short drive from Baghdad, and the province has suffered from and contributed to the ongoing violence in the Iraqi capital. In the months before the full complement of additional U.S. forces arrive in Iraq, U.S. commanders have reinforced their troops in Diyala in an effort to get this area under control before beginning major clear-and-hold operations in Baghdad. Al Qaeda has responded to this effort with a signifi cant surge of its own in the province, increasing attacks on coalition forces, local government offi cials, and civilians. Coalition attacks have been met with al Qaeda counterattacks against U.S. and Iraqi forces. Sectarian violence fell dramatically in Diyala in February 2007, as al Qaeda and other extremist groups fought coalition and Iraqi forces. But the terrorists are gradually losing control, local government is beginning to function once again, and the local population is turning against al Qaeda and toward cooperation with coalition forces in a manner similar to what has occurred in Anbar. Still, Establishing security in Diyala will be extremely difficult. Al Qaeda remains determined to reestablish its position in the province, and Iranian support for all sides in the ongoing struggle there fans the fl ames of violence as rogue Shiite militias challenge radical Sunni extremists.

Editor's note: The Iraq Report will be published at www.weeklystandard.com approximately every two weeks and will chronicle and analyze ongoing coalition military operations both in Baghdad and throughout Iraq. To read the full report in pdf click here or on the image below.

Previous Iraq Reports:

Iraq Report I: From "New Way Forward" to New Commander, March 1, 2007

Iraq Report II: The Baghdad Security Plan begins., March 15, 2007

Iraq Report III: The Anbar Awakening., April 5, 2007