The general who will lead Iraqi forces in the coming security crackdown in Baghdad takes charge on Monday, and the much-vaunted joint operation with American forces to curb sectarian bloodshed the capital will start "very soon thereafter," a senior US military adviser said.
The US military confirmed Sunday that Lt. Gen. Abboud Gambar, whose choice to lead the operation was reported by AP nearly a month ago, was named to the top position under pressure from the United States military, which blackballed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's first choice - Lt. Gen. Mohan al-Freiji.
Gambar, a Shi'ite in his early 60s was held briefly as a US prisoner after his capture in the 1991 Gulf War. He and his unit were decorated by Saddam Hussein after the war for their brave defense of Kuwait's Fialaka Island at the opening of the conflict which drove Iraqi troops out of Kuwait after a year's occupation.
"Officially the Baghdad Operational Command takes over tomorrow so the expectation is that the plan will be implemented soon thereafter, very soon thereafter," said Col. Douglass Heckman, the senior adviser to the 9th Iraqi Army Division, which operates on the east side of the Tigris River. Two Iraqi newspapers have reported the operation would begin on Monday.