BAGHDAD Ñ 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,"
Deputy Governor Khisro Goran said. "Their loyalty is not to the new Iraqi
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
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.