Iraq takes control of Babil province, 'Triangle of Death'
By Joanna Wright
Increased professionalism within the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and intensive US targeting efforts have helped to degrade the presence of extremists in Iraq's south-central 'Triangle of Death' - part of the province of Babil that was handed over to Iraqi government control on 23 October.
Babil, south of Baghdad, became the 12th of Iraq's 18 provinces to be returned to Iraqi government control, after efforts to corral or eliminate extremists on either side of the 'sectarian fault line' that divides the province between Shia (south) and Sunni (north). A small section of the north gained notoriety as the 'Triangle of Death' and the battlespace has featured Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and other Sunni extremists, as well as Jaysh al-Mahdi (JAM) and other Shia militants.
Combined factors, including a ceasefire ordered by Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr for mainstream JAM units and a decline in attacks by AQI, have meant that Shia communities are less likely to tolerate extremist checkpoints with associated problems such as extortion.
US mentoring teams are working with the Iraqi Police in the urban Shia-dominated areas, encouraging them to take a broader community-based role to thwart criminal activity.
A further measure of calm has settled over Babil because of intensive efforts by US forces to degrade weapons trafficking cells.
Image: US Military Police training Iraqi police officers in Babil province (PA Photos) 211 of 695 words
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