Raids in Saddam hometown may inflame tensions, warns tribal elder

Raids in Saddam hometown may inflame tensions, warns tribal elder

TIKRIT – US forces risk alienating Iraqis in Saddam Hussein’s hometown further if they continue raiding homes in search of suspected insurgents, a tribal elder warned yesterday.

“The more raids you have, the more you will have a problem,” Sheik Yehia Attawi said during a weekly meeting between Tikrit’s tribal leaders and Lt Col Steve Russell, a US commander in the area. But Russell said raids will continue and are necessary to weed out remaining anti-coalition attackers.He added that the main suspects in his custody would not be released.Attawi said the raids will only fuel anti-US feelings.”The raids will not decrease it, but will increase it.When the ignorant people see their fathers being arrested, they will start acting … without restraint and causing us problems,” he said, citing the arrest of a 67-year-old man recently.Attawi especially expressed displeasure at a four-hour Army raid led by Russell that began just before midnight on January 8 with 300 troops searching 20 houses and three shops in Tikrit.The troops arrested 14 Iraqis wanted in connection with attacks against coalition forces.Another 32 people were taken from their homes handcuffed and blindfolded, but 16 were released shortly afterward.Nine more were released before yesterday’s meeting.Russell told Attawi that when his soldiers mistakenly arrest someone they try to release them as soon as possible.Since April, insurgents have launched scores of attacks on US forces in Tikrit, killing five soldiers and wounding more than 50.Peaks in the strikes were recorded in June-July, when one soldier was killed and 23 soldiers wounded and in October when three soldiers were killed.But the tough US responses coupled with Saddam’s capture on December 13 led to a marked reduction in the number of shootings and bombings against coalition troops.According to Russell, US casualty figures have plummeted and improved intelligence gathering from hundreds of informants led to multiple arrests.- Nampa-APBut Russell said raids will continue and are necessary to weed out remaining anti-coalition attackers. He added that the main suspects in his custody would not be released. Attawi said the raids will only fuel anti-US feelings. “The raids will not decrease it, but will increase it. When the ignorant people see their fathers being arrested, they will start acting … without restraint and causing us problems,” he said, citing the arrest of a 67-year-old man recently. Attawi especially expressed displeasure at a four-hour Army raid led by Russell that began just before midnight on January 8 with 300 troops searching 20 houses and three shops in Tikrit. The troops arrested 14 Iraqis wanted in connection with attacks against coalition forces. Another 32 people were taken from their homes handcuffed and blindfolded, but 16 were released shortly afterward. Nine more were released before yesterday’s meeting. Russell told Attawi that when his soldiers mistakenly arrest someone they try to release them as soon as possible. Since April, insurgents have launched scores of attacks on US forces in Tikrit, killing five soldiers and wounding more than 50. Peaks in the strikes were recorded in June-July, when one soldier was killed and 23 soldiers wounded and in October when three soldiers were killed. But the tough US responses coupled with Saddam’s capture on December 13 led to a marked reduction in the number of shootings and bombings against coalition troops. According to Russell, US casualty figures have plummeted and improved intelligence gathering from hundreds of informants led to multiple arrests. – Nampa-AP

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