Iraqi armed forces are preparing to launch a security offensive against sectarian militia’s wreaking havoc across the country, it has emerged today.
The mission, entitled “The second Charge of Knights”, refers back to the success of the original 2008 military operation in which British forces and Iraqi troops took on the Shia militia, the Mahdi army, which had been found to be carrying out numerous attacks across the city of Basra.
According to a source close to Iraq’s Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Iraq’s army is preparing to launch against militias in the key cities of Anbar, Baghdad, Salah el-Din and Karkuk.
The source said that Iraq’s army has been on high alert since the bombing of more than 14 sites across Baghdad yesterday, which killed over 50 people and left hundreds injured.
Sunni insurgents, linked to al-Qaeda, have taken responsibility for the bombings and have vowed to step up attacks on Shiite targets in a bid to weaken the country’s Shiite-dominated government, led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
“The second Charge of Knights” military operation will apparently involve rolling out tanks and armoured vehicles to provide a military presence in cities vulnerable to reprisal attacks.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has today confirmed the appointment of Baker Gaber as the country’s new Interior Minister and Hady el-Amery as Defence Minister.
According to local media reports, the prime minister made the appointments in a bid to tackle the worsening security crisis.
The political situation in Iraq has continued to deteriorate since American troops left in December 2011, with regular incidents of mass protests and violence spreading throughout the country.
The last major incident occurred last week on March 14 when three car bombs exploded outside Iraq’s Ministry of Justice and Foreign Affairs in Baghdad, killing 30 people and injuring 80.
The news comes on the 10th anniversary of the US-led Iraq invasion which toppled former leader Saddam Hussein. Iraq still struggles with insurgents and sectarian violence between Sunni and Shiite factions.
Many of the country’s Sunni organisations, seen as dominant during Saddam’s regime, have said they feel persecuted by the new Shiite-led government.
Since the last election in 2010, Prime Minister al-Maliki's Sunni and Kurdish critics have accused him of consolidating his own authority, by abusing his control of security forces to actively pursue Sunni politicians.