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BAGHDAD — The Iraqi national police has helped militias prevent medicine, food and fuel from getting to an area south of Baghdad, and even participated in slayings, Iraq’s vice president wrote in a letter to the top U.S. commander in Iraq.

In the Dec. 24 letter to Gen. George Casey, Tarik al-Hashemi, a Sunni, says residents of the Madaein district, which includes Salman Pak, “are victims of a scheme aiming to restore this district to be under Persian Iranian predominance,” specifically by an Iranian regime called Ali al-Shawki.

The regime has seized the local mosque and converted it into an “abattoir to slaughter innocent human beings on a sectarian basis,” al-Hashemi wrote to Casey, commander of Multi-National Forces-Iraq.

Since November 2006, the Iraqi national police’s “Wolf Brigade” has helped militias block deliveries of medicine, food, fuel, and even commit murder, al-Hashemi says. He lists nine demands, including the “evacuation” of the national police, delivery of aid and a “protective force consisting of the inhabitants of the area.”

U.S. intelligence officials said they are worried the local Sunnis are prepared to form their own militia if they do not believe the Iraqi government — or U.S. forces — are working quickly enough to protect the people.

Leaders of the 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, which is responsible for Madaein, did not know about the missive until the last week in January, according to Maj. Bruce Vitor, executive officer for the 3-61. But some of the issues already have been addressed, said Vitor, 35, from St. Louis.

Vitor said the Salman al-Taher mosque in Salman Pak that Hashemi referred to was cleared by Iraqi forces in January and closed to Shiites and Sunnis.

Recently, a Shiite-controlled Iraqi ministry decided to return the mosque to Shiites. Local Sunnis have yet to react to this decision.

Vitor said efforts also are under way to move members of the national police out of Salman Pak’s library and other government facilities.

The 3-61 did a site survey for a base for them, which would get them away from the heart of the city and solve a lot of problems, he said.

As for the people of Salman Pak having their own candidates for the Council of the Governorate of Baghdad, another demand, “We’re trying to do that,” Vitor said.

But ultimately, he said, that issue is not up to the Americans, but Iraq’s provincial council.

As with the mosque issue, U.S. officials can encourage the Iraqi government to address the problem and facilitate meetings, Vitor said.

But, he said “it must be the people of Iraq who decide” what they want to do.


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