Chief of staff tours Anbar following death of senior army officers

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By Nourideen Hameed

Azzaman, December 21, 2013

The death of the commander of the army’s 7th division along with at least 20 other senior officers in a deadly clash with al-Qaeda shows that the terrorist group is still a power to reckon with.

Top Iraqi political and military officials rushed to the Province of Anbar where the incident took place.

The loss of Lt. Gen. Mohammed al-Karwi and his top officers is a blow to the government and its fight against al-Qaeda.

Karwi and his division were much feared by insurgents and militants belonging to the group and their loss is certain to be felt for a long time.

Chief of Staff Babaker al-Zaibari and other top brass were in Ramadi, the provincial capital of Anbar, when news of Karwi’s death first became known.

There have been different versions about causes of the death.

In one of them, his killing was attributed to a carefully planned ambush by al-Qaeda.

In another version, Karwi was killed by a roadside bomb as he led a force to storm an al-Qaeda camp in the desert of Anbar.

Al-Qaeda has returned to Anbar and with force not known since 2008. It runs several camps in the sprawling desert that stretches to the Syrian and Jordanian borders.

However, Zaibari played down reports that al-Qaeda was currently in control of large swathes of territory in the predominantly Sunni-inhabited central Iraq.

 While acknowledge that the death of Karwi was “a big loss” to the army, Zaibari emphasized that al-Qaeda was losing ground.