U.S. intelligence reports say an Iraqi national security force working under the supervision of U.S. Special Forces arrested 16 men and killed several others in raids in Basra. The reports linked one man to a kidnapping network and to operations bringing foreign fighters into the region, the U.S. military said.
The Iraqi forces, with U.S.-led air support, came under small-arms fire during the operations and killed two militants.
The operations came as Maj. Gen. Michael Jones, an internal affairs officer in Baghdad, said the Iraqi operations in Basra highlighted the downfalls as well as the accomplishments of Iraqi security forces.
Jones said the Iraqi police force alone grew some 400 percent since the U.S.-led invasion, but he recognized the lack of top level positions in the force because of the decision to remove members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party officials from the government, the American Forces Press Service said.
The operations in Basra, Jones said, suggested the Iraqi police force overcame its past obstacles of corruption and sectarianism to make a stand in Basra.
Jones said the Iraqi units in Basra "had significant problems" but noted "the fact (is) that it was Iraqis in the lead overcoming those problems, and I have to give them a bit of credit for that."
Several police units abandoned their stations to fight for the Shiite militias in Basra, but Jones identified those as local police and not Iraqi national forces.