Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Good News from Iraq: 5 Feb 2008

From MNF-I, Security Gains by Coalition Allow Families to Return to Zambraniyah.

ZAMBRANIYAH — Nearly 1,000 residents returned to Zambraniyah throughout the last week of January after learning the area had been secured by Coalition and Iraqi forces. When heavy fighting in the Zambraniyah area broke out in early January, Coalition Forces advised families to evacuate the area to stay out of danger.

As residents fled, blending in was difficult for al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) members, enabling Soldiers to identify and target them. Over the course of combat operations, more than 40 extremists were killed.

The 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, currently attached to 2nd BCT, 3rd Inf. Div., is now helping displaced families return to their homes.

“In the past 48 hours approximately 1,000 Zambraniyah residents have returned to their homes,” said Captain David Lively, 6-8th Cav. Regt. assistant operations officer.

Last year, AQI infiltrated Zambraniyah. Local citizens said those who refused to support AQI were killed. Now, citizens are standing up to protect their community. Coalition forces have organized a neighborhood watch program of concerned citizens, called ‘Sons of Iraq’.

To date, more than 500 Sons of Iraq in the Zambraniyah area have been recruited and organized into a force that works closely with the Iraqi Army and Coalition forces. More than 100 improvised explosive devices have been uncovered and disposed of with their help.

As the civilian population returns to this agricultural community, the hope is that economic activity will increase. U.S. Army civil affairs teams working with the 6-8 Cav. Regt. are assisting in economic assessments of the Zambraniyah community and plan to offer micro-grants to small businesses in the community.