Hundreds of Iraqi police defect to insurgency in Mosul

Friday, November 19, 2004

BAGHDAD Iraqi police and security forces have once again defected to join the insurgency movement against the U.S.-led coalition.

Iraqi sources said between 300 and 1,000 police officers have deserted and joined the Sunni insurgency against the U.S.-led coalition in the northern city of Mosul, the third largest city in the country. The sources said the Iraqi officers have brought their U.S.-issued weapons and joined insurgents in the takeover of the city this week.

"We are convinced, because we have evidence, that many policemen in Mosul are loyal to the former regime and sympathetic to the terrorists," Mosul Deputy Governor Khisro Goran said. "Their loyalty is not to the new Iraqi regime."

Goran said the insurgents and defecting officers failed to capture National Guard headquarters and other major Iraqi military facilities in Mosul. He said police stations surrendered to the insurgents without a fight, Middle East Newsline reported.

The defection in Mosul was said to have been the largest in any single Iraqi city since the nationwide Sunni and Shi'ite revolt in April 2004. At the time, up to 50 percent of Iraq's police and security forces either fled from battle or joined the insurgents against the U.S.-led coalition.

The sources said the latest desertion by Iraqi forces was said to have been facilitated by Gen. Mohammed Khairi Al Birhawi, chief of Mosul's 5,000-member police force. They said Al Birhawi has been captured by U.S. troops and accused of helping the insurgents.

The defection of the police officers in Mosul began last week, the sources said. They said police joined the insurgents in attacks on police stations and government facilities throughout the city. The insurgency attacks included the use of mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, automatic fire and car bombs.

Over the last three days, about 2,500 U.S. troops as well as nearly 1,000 Iraqi soldiers have fought to regain control of Mosul. The sources said about half of the city has been secured as Kurdish Peshmerga forces joined the U.S.-led coalition. Mosul has a large Kurdish population and Kurdish neighborhoods were attacked by Sunni insurgents during the latest revolt.

Officials said Iraqi National Guard and U.S. troops restored control over most of the police stations seized by insurgents. They said one police station was heavily damaged by insurgency mortar fire.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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