Ancient community in and outside the country mark a festival short on cheer.
|The fighters are adapting to the changing nature
of the battlefield [Al Jazeera]
Foreign forces in Iraq are hoping that a much heralded drop in violence in Iraq will continue into the new year.
However, in exclusive images obtained by Al Jazeera, fighters from the Islamic Front for Resistance in Iraq (Jami) say they are biding their time and training hard with an array of new weapons in order to drive foreign forces out as soon as possible.
Al Jazeera’s Iraq correspondent Hoda Abdel Hamid reports.
Deep in the groves north of Baghdad, a group of fighters are shown on camera participating in an afternoon workshop on the making and use of weapons.
It includes a step-by-step lesson on how to turn an old tank shell into a roadside bomb. It took only 20 minutes to put together a device powerful enough to blow up an armoured vehicle. Two will destroy a tank, the instructors say.
Countless videos of these devices’ devastating effects are shown on military websites.
Roadside bombs are lethal devices that cause the bulk of US soldier casualties to this day.
The Pentagon has upgraded military equipment in Iraq to counter this kind of attack, but the enemy has remained relentless, and is swiftly adapting to the changes on the field.
“We have experts who are in charge of researching and developing new methods continuously,” one of the men says.
“We need to find new ways all the time, in case we run out of chemicals.”
He also says the Americans are now using jamming devices, but their engineers have already managed to crack the code.
The fighters are part of Jami and describe themselves as a resistance group. They vow that all their firepower is directed at foreign soldiers only.
“One shot, one soldier killed is the rule,” says the instructor, a former army officer.
Market for weapons
The fighters want to develop ever more
The disbanding of the former Iraqi army and the controversial de-Baathification law were two monumental mistakes the US is still paying for.
Disgruntled former officers with no future prospects sowed the seeds of the resistance and offered up their knowledge of warfare to young recruits.
They say Iraq is the best market for any kind of weapon, including new Glock pistols which belong to the newly formed Iraqi security forces.
In another set of images, the instructor explains how an old rifle used by the British nearly a century ago was recently upgraded.
“0ur enemies won’t take such a weapon seriously,” he says, “but with the changes we made, it has become very effective for snipers – equal to the modern sniper guns.”
Rocket launchers, now with aiming sights welded on top, are also regularly used to fire at military convoys.
Our researchers are developing remote controlled explosive devices, soon we [can] wage a battle with a little as two fighters
Over the past four years, groups such as Jami have grown into organised war machines, with fighters divided in combat cells, snipers, anti-aircraft gunners, bomb makers and artillery experts.
One man displays a new weapon in the video.
“This has a range of 1.4km,” he says. “It is best aimed at bases which are not heavily fortified and individuals because the rounds are small.
He instructs his students to fire the weapon at targets who are training or taking a break.
The recent announcement that Washington and the Iraqi government are drawing up plans for long-term US military bases is for many Iraqis proof of an open-ended occupation.
The fighters have every intention of continuing their operations and in an ever more sophisticated manner.
“Our researchers are developing remote-controlled explosive devices,” one man says.
“Soon we will be able to wage a battle with as little as two fighters – we will minimise our losses.”
Almost five years after the start of the war in Iraq, the US still has not acknowledged the existence of a fighting force hostile to the presence of foreign troops on Iraqi soil.
And despite a decrease in US casualties over the past two months, the fighters warn they are in this battle for the long haul.