When it comes to Iraq, the only appropriate kind of optimism is the cautious variety. Still, there are signs that the good news that began in Anbar continues to spread. The Associated Press reports on a sweep through Shia neighborhoods south of Baghdad conducted by U.S. and Iraqi forces:
Rival Shiite militias are engaged in grabs for power in the oil-rich south of the country, as British forces are drawing down. But U.S. commanders have reported significant inroads against both Shiite militias and al-Qaida in Iraq fighters across the fertile agriculture belt nearer to the capital. They credit local residents, emboldened against the terror tactics of both al-Qaida and Shiite militants, with much of the success.
The residents have bought into a trend that started in Iraq’s western Anbar province, where Sunni tribesmen rose up against al-Qaida and have methodically hunted them down in conjunction with U.S. forces.
South of the capital, Shiite militiamen are facing the same onslaught in communities where they have terrorized co-religionists.
Meanwhile, north of Baghdad, an enormous cache of explosives was discovered and destroyed:
The US military announced on Saturday it had found and destroyed a massive cache of more than 18 tonnes of explosives in a province north of Baghdad.
The haul of 41,000 pounds (18.6 tonnes) of homemade explosives was discovered on Thursday along with 35 projectiles west of the town of Tarmiya in Salaheddin province, a statement said.
“A discovery of this magnitude deals a crippling blow to the enemy,” said Colonel Bryan Owens, an officer involved in the operation.
It does seem that the pace of favorable developments is continuing to accelerate.
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