Friday, June 26, 2009

Elite Iraqi troops in forefront after US pullback

BAGHDAD (AP) — As Iraqi security services prepare to take back their towns from the Americans on Tuesday, the sharpest arrow in their quiver is an elite, American-trained force with a reputation that leads many Iraqis to call it "the dirty brigade."

Its real name is the Counter Terrorism Bureau, and its commander insists it's professional, nonsectarian and not dirty at all.

Violence is already rising and will likely continue after the handover as different factions test the government's ability to manage without American backup. But Kalib Shegati al-Kenani, the Iraqi Army general who heads the bureau, is confident his force can cope and that his country will not slide into renewed sectarian warfare.

The elite units, armed with high-tech U.S.-made equipment, often pair up with American special forces to go after Iraq's most wanted foes — both al-Qaida extremists and Shiite militants.

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