May 5, 2008
We’ve often heard from protesters that our Troops are not accomplishing much in Iraq and that the Iraqi people are worse off than they were, before our Troops toppled Saddam’s reign of horror. We’ve made sure to show the things that our Troops are accomplishing in Iraq, to show a side that the media, for the most part, has completely ignored. The rebuilding of communities, the increased safety for residences and the provision of medical services for the people, who may not have had those things in the past.
Recently, in the village of Chalabi, residents of this village, which is located about 25 kilometers southeast of Baghdad, are returning to reclaim their homes, after being forced to abandon their homes by al-Qaeda and Iraq extremists, over a year ago. The 120 villagers were excorted by Sons of Iraq leader Jumah al-Kazarji and Soldiers from the 1st Platoon, Company C, 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division. A large convoy of cars and trucks ushered the villages back to their abandoned village. Reclaiming their homes signaled what they hope is the beginning of a new era in their village … one of peace and security.
The village used to contain a population of over 2000 people. The village consisted of a Shia tribe in a Sunni-dominated area. Because of this, the Chalabis of the Sayafiyah region were prime targets for al-Qaeda and other Sunni insurgents. They were driven from their homes about 18 months ago. When that occurred, the villagers were forced to leave behind their farms, animals, equipment, seeds and fertilizer that they had stored for the upcoming planting seasons. The village became a virtual ghost town. Empty homes fell into a state of disrepair, irrigation ditches dried up, as they fled from the violence wreaked upon them by the insurgents.
The region has become more peaceful and stable and the Chalabis are finally able to make the first steps towards returning to their village and rebuilding their lives. Those that have already returned are ready to repair homes and farms. In the coming weeks, they’ll begin to bring their families back home, as well.
While returning to their village is a huge first step, much needs to be accomplished before their lives can return to their normal existence. Essential services, such as water and power must be restored, as well as the repairs to the buildings and property. This first step is the first time in many years that the villagers felt that there was hope of rebuilding their lives in a stable environment. Hope that was brought to them, because of the work of US forces and their Iraqi counterparts.