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Iraqis Decry US "Separation Wall"
BAGHDAD — Sunnis residents of Al-Adhamiyah district in Baghdad were fuming Saturday, April 21, at US construction of a "security wall", saying it would harden the city's already bitter sectarian divisions and isolate Iraqis from one another.
"I'm astonished by the way officials think. Is that reasonable? Protecting Al-Adhamiyah by segregating it from adjacent neighborhoods?" Um Haider, 54, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Branding the barrier a "weird idea," the housewife said the barrier is not a panacea to the city's deadly sectarian violence.
"Erecting concrete walls between neighborhoods is not a solution to the collapse in security and the rampant violence. If so, Baghdadis would find themselves in a maze of high walls overnight," she said.
On April 10, US paratroopers began hauling six-tonne (14,000-pound) sections of concrete wall into place around the Sunni district of Adhamiyah.
The wall is designed to prevent Shiite death squads from launching attacks to drive out the Sunnis, and to prevent Sunni insurgents from using the pocket as a base for raids and bombing runs into Shiite areas.
The area is to become what the US military called a "gated community" protected by barriers and checkpoints manned by Iraqi troops. Eleven days after the project began, the highway dividing Adhamiyah from its Shiite neighbors is lined with tall concrete barriers.
"That community will be completely gated and protected," said Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Rogers, commander of the 407th Brigade Support Battalion.