Mideast edition, Thursday, May 31, 2007

The 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division — the latest unit to join the “surge” in Baghdad earlier this month — has taken up position in Tarmiyah, officials said Wednesday.

The town is known as one of the more violent areas near Baghdad and was the scene of a pitched attack by insurgents on a U.S. base some three months ago. That fight cost the lives of two American soldiers and resulted in nearly 30 more wounded.

Until about a year ago, the military said, there was no permanent U.S. military presence in the town, where residents still watch the Americans with a careful eye.

“Some of them are not thrilled we are here,” Capt. Patrick Roddy, commander of Company C, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, was quoted as saying in a news release.

That unit has been operating in the city for roughly two weeks, officials said.

The press release described the unit’s mission as “a tug-of-war with insurgents in the town” in which “the people of Tarmiyah are the rope.”

The previous unit — an armored cavalry unit — had less direct interaction with the people because of the equipment they used, officials said. With Strykers now being used, it is easier to “dismount” soldiers and have them patrol on foot.

Tarmiyah is about 90 percent Sunni and has been used by insurgents as a way station on routes to Mosul, Baqouba and Baghdad.

There are also scores of Sunni refugees who have been forced from Baghdad by sectarian violence.

The 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, from Fort Lewis, Wash., has some 3,700 soldiers and was the fourth additional Army brigade brought in to augment the “surge.”

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