The status of al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Ayyub al Masri remains uncertain. The Anbar Salvation Council, the grouping of tribes and former insurgent groups united in opposition to al Qaeda, is maintaining it had good intelligence on al Masri's death after it conducted a raid outside the provincial boundaries of Anbar. The fighting was said to be fierce after an expeditionary force of the Anbar Salvation Council engaged al Qaeda in the town of al Nibayi, near Taji, in Salahadin province. Several al Qaeda fighters were left on the battlefield, including a body that is thought to be al-Masri's, and the tribal fighters, along with Task Force 145, are said to be moving back into al-Nibayi in an attempt to recover the corpse. Reports indicate that some bodies are already being tested to identify those killed.
The fighting in al Nibayi highlights a significant development. After less than one year since its formation, the Anbar Salvation Council is no longer content with remaining a static paramilitary force designed to protects the tribal areas, cities, and towns within the province. Instead it has formed an expeditionary unit, or units, designed to operate outside of Anbar's provincial boundaries--apparently with the approval of the Iraqi government. The group is taking advantage of its tribal affiliations, which transcend the provincial boundaries, and is using the intelligence gained from the former insurgents in its midst to take the fight to al Qaeda and other Sunni insurgent groups in their own strongholds.
In Bagdhad, al Qaeda conducted a successful car bomb attack just outside Sadr City. Ten were killed and 25 wounded after a suicide bomber crashed into a police patrol near the Imam Ali hospital.
The fourth U.S. combat brigade is now in Iraq. After a report on April 19th stating that the 4th Brigade, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team had moved into Iraq, news on the unit dried up. The 3,700 soldiers of the 4-2 SBCT "will be deployed in various locations around the country," according to the Multinational Forces Iraq press release. "Their mission will be to assist Iraqi Security Forces to clear, control and retain key areas of the capital city in order to reduce violence."
Iraqi and Coailtion operations against al Qaeda and insurgent cells continue. Twelve members of al Qaeda's network were captured during raids in Anbar province and Baghdad. Yesterday, Iraqi Special Operations Forces captured five members of a car bomb cell in Baghdad, and six members of a death squad. On April 30, Iraqi Special Operations Forces captured Sayyid Sallih Al-Jezzaani, "an individual believed to the leader of a rogue element of the Jaysh Al-Madhi (JAM) militia in the Basrah area," along with seven other suspects.