Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat- Iraqi intelligence sources have emphasized that Izzat al-Duri, Revolution Command Council vice-chairman in the former Iraqi regime, is hiding in one of the strongholds of the so-called “the Islamic State of Iraq” in the southern suburbs of Diyala, northeast of Baghdad. In reaction to this statement, a number of tribal leaders in Diyala Governorate have expressed their readiness to assist the security agencies in capturing Al-Duri. However, they ruled out the possibility of his taking shelter in the city because a third military operation is under way in the governorate.
Sheikh Muzhir al-Zaydi, leader of the Al-Zaydiyin tribes in Diyala, has ruled out the possibility that Al-Duri, who is one of the most prominent aides of the leader of the former regime, Saddam Hussein, is taking shelter in Diyala. In a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat, he said: “Al-Duri cannot possibly have entered Diyala, especially because a third military operation is under way in the city.” He said that “the number of troops and the extensive measures being taken in the city do not enable Al-Duri or any one else to take shelter in the city, where security forces are hunting down all wanted men and suspects in an operation aimed at eliminating the last strongholds of Al-Qaeda in Diyala.”
On the possibility that Al-Duri may be sheltering in the areas between the Humrayn Hills and Al-Uzaym area, considered one of the most important strongholds of the so-called the Islamic State of Iraq, Al-Zaydi said: “He may be sheltering in those areas, particularly because not enough security forces are deployed there to pursue the wanted men.” He noted that “the Humrayn Hills area in particular witnesses activities by Al-Qaeda. This information is known to the Iraqi government forces and the area is the last stronghold of Al-Qaeda elements, which the security forces are perusing to hunt them down.”
Discussing the “Al-Awdah” [return] Party that seeks to bring back the dissolved Baath Party to power, Sheikh Al-Zaydi said that “the elements of the so-called Baath Party are breathing their last and have no activity whether in Diyala or its suburbs.” It is to be recalled that an official intelligence source had revealed that the second-in-command in the former Iraqi regime, Izzat al-Duri, was hiding in one of the strongholds of the so-called the Islamic State of Iraq in the suburbs of Diyala. He appealed to the tribal leaders and notables in the governorate to intensity the efforts of their tribesmen at this time to arrest the wanted remnants of the former Iraqi regime.
This Iraq security source Said: “The Iraqi forces have intensified their efforts in these areas because the recent events over the past three months confirmed that there are close links between the former regime’s elements and terrorist groups. This was a factor in the deterioration of the security situation in some areas, particularly through the use of IED, which targeted many local government officials and citizens. In addition, information given by some members of the so-called the Al-Nawah, Liberation, and Return Party, which is an extension of the Baath Party, whose founder was arrested in the Sunayjah area, said that the party fanned sectarian violence in the area.” He appealed to the tribal leaders and notables in Diyala “to cooperate with the Iraqi forces to capture Al-Duri, who is believed to be leading the Baath Party’s armed resistance against the US and Iraqi forces.”
Al-Duri is No 6 on the deck of 55 cards wanted by the US forces, and he is wanted No 1 by the Iraqi authorities. The US forces increased the reward for information leading to his capture from 10 million to 20 million dollars.
For his part, Sheikh Saad Majid al-Suwayri, leader of the Al-Suwayrat tribes, said: “The citizens of the city, its sheikhs and tribesmen will hunt down all outlaws and anyone trying to take shelter in their areas.” In a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat, he said: “The Al-Qaeda organization and the terrorist groups are in decline and their numbers have decreased by 80 per cent.” He added: “Al-Qaeda currently has no activity in the city, so how could it hide a figure like Al-Duri, who is wanted by both the Iraqi government and the US forces?” He stressed that “most tribes in Diyala support the state of law and the measures the state is taking to curtail the influence of the terrorist elements in the city.”
Sheikh Ahmad Abdullah al-Hassuni, leader of the Shammar tribes in the Kan’an area, said that Al-Duri might have taken shelter in the Humrayn Hills or in Al-Uzaym area, because he has close ties with the tribes in those areas, and they might help hide him. In a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat, he said: “Those areas are appropriate for hiding, being hilly countryside. In addition, Al-Qaeda activity is growing in those areas.”