Shia Militants Surge In Iraq

The deadly Sunni insurgency that has led the fight against U.S. forces in Iraq from the start of the war is all but over, according to America's second-most powerful commander, reports CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan.

Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno says the war now is against Shia militias and America's old enemy, al Qaeda.

"I think the Sunni insurgency as we used to see it is really no longer," said Odierno. "Some people will challenge me on that, but I believe they have either chosen to be part of al Qaeda in Iraq or they've decided they want to try to reconcile with this government."

With the help of hard-core Sunni insurgents like the Ameriyah Freedom Fighters in Baghdad, Odierno says U.S. forces have had some recent success against al Qaeda.


It's now Shia militants, backed by Iran, who are killing the most Americans in the Iraqi capital, taking 32 U.S. lives last month, Logan reports.

"What we found in the month of July that about 70 percent of the casualty-causing incidents were caused by Shia, Shia extremists, and about 30 percent by Sunnis and al Qaeda," said Odierno.

Shia militias like the Mehdi Army are not fighting to regain lost power like the Sunnis, adds Logan; their fight is for power and influence in the future Iraq.

Documents taken from a U.S. military Web site claim to show Shia fighters captured or killed in a war that Odierno says is escalating as Iran increases its support for America's enemies.

"I think they've surged along with our surge," Odierno said, "and I think their surge has been Iran continuing to send additional money, conduct additional training and additional weapons in here."

Odierno believes any decision on a U.S. withdrawal must consider Iran's growing influence. This isn't the war Odierno thought he was coming here to fight, but it's clear he isn't ready to give up yet.
  • Alfonso Serrano

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