Today’s NY Times has a report headlined “Shiite Militias Cling to Swaths of Basra and Stage Raids.”
The Times reports the battle is going very badly for Iraq and American forces:
Shiite militiamen in Basra openly controlled wide swaths of the city on Saturday and staged increasingly bold raids on Iraqi government forces sent five days ago to wrest control from the gunmen, witnesses said, as Iraqi political leaders grew increasingly critical of the stalled assault.Shite militiamen “openly” controlling “wide swaths” of Basra, “the most powerful militia” setting up checkpoints, a “poorly planned” operation, “growing discontent,” and more.
said members of the most powerful militia in the city, the Mahdi Army, were setting up checkpoints and controlling traffic in many places ringing the central district controlled by some of the 30,000 Iraqi Army and police forces involved in the assault. Fighters were regularly attacking the government forces, then quickly retreating. Basra
Senior members of several political parties said the operation, ordered by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, had been poorly planned.
The growing discontent adds a new level of complication to the American-led effort to demonstrate that the Iraqi government had made strides toward being able to operate a functioning country and keep the peace without thousands of American troops.
Mr. Maliki has staked his reputation on the success of the
Basraassault, fulfilling a longstanding American desire for him to boldly take on militias. ...
The way the Times reports the battle, you'd think the battle was going as badly as Sens. Clinton and Obama and Speaker Pelosi keep saying things are going in Iraq.
But is the battle really going as badly as the Times reports?
Not according to another report today:
Six days after the Iraqi government launched Operation Knights’ Charge in Basrah against the Mahdi Army and other Iranian-backed Shia terror groups, Muqtada al Sadr, the Leader of the Mahdi Army, has called for his fighters to lay down their weapons and cooperate with Iraqi security forces.I'm betting Sadr and his "most powerful militia" have quit the fight, and that the NY Times has blown another report from Iraq.
Sadr’s call for an end to the fighting comes as his Mahdi Army has taken serious losses since the operation began.
The Iraqi government has welcomed Sadr’s call for his followers to cease fighting.
"The order to pull off gunmen off Basra along with all Iraqi provinces and to disavow those who has taken up arms against government offices and security forces is responsive and patriotic", Ali Al-Dabagh, the spokesman for the Iraqi government, told Voices of Iraq. The Iraqi government has not called for a halt in military operations.
Sadr’s call for an end to fighting by his followers comes as his Mahdi Army has taken high casualties over the past six days. Since the fighting began on Tuesday 358 Mahdi Army fighters were killed, 531 were wounded, 343 were captured, and 30 surrendered.
The US and Iraqi security forces have killed 125 Mahdi Army fighters in Baghdad alone, while Iraqi security forces have killed 140 Mahdi fighters in Basra.
From March 25-29 the Mahdi Army had an average of 71 of its fighters killed per day. Sixty-nine fighters have been captured per day, and another 160 have been reported wounded per day during the fighting. …
Wishful thinking and spinning are no substitutes for fair and balanced news reporting.
NYT story's here; Long War Journal story's here.
Hat tips: Mike Williams and Instapundit