'Daughters of Iraq' tackle al-Qaida

Oct. 3, 2008 at 4:35 PM
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BAGHDAD, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- An all-women's group called Daughters of Iraq is taking on a new role under U.S. financing as part of the counterinsurgency strategy there, officials said.

Like their counterparts in the Sunni-led Sons of Iraq paramilitary force, the so-called Daughters of Iraq are used to conduct searches of females at checkpoints and other similar duties.

Iraqi police Col. Mahmud Tayih Mahmud said the group works well, as Islamic custom has several restrictions on male-female interactions, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

"It's useful for our job," he said. "In our tradition it's not allowed for males to search females; it's good to prevent the suicide bombers from attacking us, and it's good for the security situation for the civilians."

U.S. and Iraqi officials say al-Qaida has resorted to using female suicide bombers as a tactic of last resort. U.S. officials confirmed 21 females took part in a weapons certification program in the country, and rough estimates put the total number of women in the police force at about 1,000.

A female suicide bomber in July killed 22 people at a police recruiting center in Baquba, the provincial capital of Diyala, while 20 people were killed just south of the city earlier this month.

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