IRAQ: SOLDIERS BUILDING WALL SEPARATING SUNNIS, SHIITES
BAGHDAD – U.S. soldiers with the 82nd Airborne Division in a Baghdad district are “building a three-mile protective wall on the dividing line between a Sunni enclave and the surrounding Shiite neighborhood,” according to a U.S. military press release issued Wednesday.
Troops with the 407th Brigade Support Battalion began constructing the wall on April 10 and will continue work “almost nightly until the wall is complete,” the release read.
“The area the wall will protect is the largest predominately Sunni neighborhood in East Baghdad. Majority-Shiite neighborhoods surround it on three sides. Like other religiously divided regions in the city, the area has been trapped in a spiral of sectarian violence and retaliation,” according to the release.
In January, when the new Baghdad security plan and troop “surge” were announced, the “gated community” concept was reported by several news agencies as one tactic to be used.
But after a regularly scheduled news briefing in Baghdad on Wednesday, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, the top spokesman for coalition forces in Iraq, said he was unaware of efforts to build a wall dividing Shiite and Sunni enclaves in Baghdad and said that such a tactic was not a policy of the Baghdad security plan.
“We have no intent to build gated communities in Baghdad,” Caldwell said Wednesday.