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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Iraqi forces raid Iran-backed Shi'ite strongholds
in the South

BAGHDAD — Iraq has launched a rare security operation near its border with Kuwait.   

Officials said the Iraq Army conducted a large-scale operation in the south near the Kuwaiti border. The operation began on May 11 in the southern Basra province in the area of Mount Sanam.

"The military operation took place within Iraqi territory regardless of the fact that the targeted areas were located near the Kuwaiti or Saudi Arabian borders," Iraq Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Aziz Al Kadhemi said.

Al Kadhemi said the operation by the army's 14th Brigade sought to seize weapons caches by Shi'ite insurgents, Middle East Newsline reported. So far, the general said, more than 100 weapons have been found.

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Mount Sanam and the Safwan farms have been identified as strongholds for Shi'ite insurgents financed by Iran. Officials said the areas were used to destabilize Basra, the second largest city and Iraq's southern oil port.

"These lawless areas have been hotbeds for insurgents and criminal gangs who destabilized Basra," Al Kadhemi said.

Officials said the ground force operation was aided by Iraq Air Force helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. They said the air assets provided reconnaissance and surveillance of the Shi'ite strongholds.

In March 2009, Iraqi security forces launched a similar operation against Shi'ite insurgents. This took place on the island of Umm Al Rasas near the Iranian border.

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