...In total, approximately 85,000-100,000 NLF and PAVN troops had participated in the initial onslaught and in the follow-up phases. Overall, during the "Border Battles" of 1967 and the nine-month winter-spring campaign, 75,000-85,000 NLF and PAVN troops had been killed in action.So, when you read about Muqtada's "victory," keep in mind that Walter Cronkite gave our Tet victory to the Viet Cong. After Walter's pronouncement, the VC started to claim he was right. He certainly convinced the 1968 Senate Democrats.
In the present day, it's worse. Senate Democrats are already practicing escalation in the rhetoric of defeat.
The Mahdi Army would like to make their drubbing into a victory too as did the Viet Cong, and just weeks before General Petraeus reports to Congress the MSM cannot be expected to object. Conventional Maim Scream Media "wisdom" has it that Muqtada al-Sadr and his thugs have "won" a confrontation with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
The situation, as John Kerry would say, is somewhat more nuanced. Fortunately, we have independent observers on the scene. Here's a closer view from Bill Roggio:
...The reasons behind Sadr's call for a cessation in fighting remain unknown, but reports indicate the Mahdi Army was having a difficult time sustaining its operations and has taken heavy casualties. "Whatever gains [the Mahdi Army] has made in the field [in Basrah], they were running short of ammunition, food, and water," an anonymous US military officer serving in South told The Long War Journal. "In short [the Mahdi Army] had no ability to sustain the effort.RTWT
TIME's sources in Basrah paint a similar picture. "There has been a large-scale retreat of the Mahdi Army in the oil-rich Iraqi port city because of low morale and because ammunition is low due to the closure of the Iranian border," the magazine reported.
...According to an unofficial tally of the open source reporting from the US and Iraqi media and Multinational Forces Iraq, 571 Mahdi Army fighters have been killed, 881 have been wounded, 490 have been captured, and 30 have surrendered over the course of seven days of fighting. [I'm sure Maliki would not object to sustaining that attrition.]
...The Mahdi Army has also taken heavy casualties in Basrah. "The Iraqi security agencies killed 210 gunmen, including 42 dangerous criminals, while 600 others were wounded and 155 captured since the commencement of a military campaign in Basra," Major General Abdul Kareem Khalaf told Voices of Iraq on Monday. "Security agencies seized a large amount of weapons including developed explosive charges, and dismantled three car bombs and 80 improvised explosive devices."
...The Mahdi Army took heavy casualties in the fighting for Nasiriyah, according to the provincial governor of Dhi Qhar. More than 85 fighters were killed, 200 were wounded, and 100 were arrested, said Governor Aziz Alwan, noting that the figures have not been finalized. Seven police were reported killed and 44 wounded during the fighting. Twenty-eight 28 civilians were killed and 60 wounded, many after the Mahdi Army launched mortar attacks on a civilian neighborhood.
Here's Ed Morrissey. Remind me again -- who's losing in Basra?:
...Anyone who follows the news closely in Iraq knew this day would come. The British left a power vacuum behind in the south that the Baghdad government could not fill at the time, and Sadr and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council’s Badr Brigades filled it instead. They have fought each other and some smaller Shi’ite groups for control of the streets ever since 2005, as Steven Vincent tried to warn people just before they murdered him in Basra. The Iraqi government had no choice but to challenge the militias for control of Basra and the surrounding areas, but they waited until the Iraqi Army had enough strength to succeed.Bill Roggio update:
Did our media give anyone this context? No. They reported it as some kind of spontaneous eruption of rebellion without noting at all that a nation can hardly be considered sovereign while its own security forces cannot enter a large swath of its own territory. And in the usual defeatist tone, they reported that our mission in Iraq had failed without waiting to see what the outcome of the battle would be.
Sadr now wants to disavow anyone with a gun. The Mahdis, which found themselves on the short end of the stick, have just watched their Fearless Leader surrender — again — and this time leaving them twisting in the wind. That isn’t the action of a victor. Perhaps our media would like to explain that in the context of their clueless reporting so far.
...From March 25-29 the Mahdi Army had an average of 71 of its fighters killed per day. Sixty-nine fighters have been captured per day, and another 160 have been reported wounded per day during the fighting. The US and Iraqi military never came close to inflicting casualties at such a high rate during the height of major combat operations against al Qaeda in Iraq during the summer and fall of 2007.Here's some footage of how those casualties were inflicted. The lasers are scary all by themselves, but the firepower brought to bear on Muqti's Minions is incredible.