Voice from the Commonwealth Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts
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The Special Forces stories are starting to be told.
U.S. Special Forces soldiers worked secretly with Iraqis in a Baghdad suburb for months before the war began, military officials disclosed on Monday.
Soldiers from the 5th Special Forces Group entered Abu Ghurayb, on the western outskirts of the Iraqi capital, and developed a rapport with the town's elders before the war, U.S. Central Command said.
Abu Ghurayb is just north of the airport once called Saddam International, the first objective in the Baghdad area seized by U.S. troops April 4. From there Army forces drove into the heart of Baghdad on April 6, marking the beginning of the end of Saddam Hussein's rule.
In a news release from Baghdad, Central Command officials described the role of the 5th Special Forces Group in helping the people of Abu Ghurayb elect a city council last week, which Central Command said was the first free election in recent Iraqi history.
"Soldiers from the 5th Special Forces Group who have been working with the townspeople for over eight months helped them with the elections," the statement said without elaborating on the timeline.
"It helped considerably that Special Forces soldiers had been in the area before the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom," the statement said, quoting the Special Forces team leader, identified only as Capt. Mike. Operation Iraqi Freedom is the Pentagon's name for the Iraq war.
The statement said the Special Forces soldiers "developed a rapport with the townspeople before being accepted by the town's elders. As the relationship between the Iraqis and the Americans developed, the Special Forces team helped them set up an election without American influence."
"We were sent here to help win the hearts and minds of the people," Capt. Mike was quoted as saying. "We were sincere, and they responded to us. As time passed, they realized we were here to help."
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