The Sayafiyah SoI welcome more than 100 men from the Chalabi Village who returned to their homes the last week of April after being driven away by AQI. The returning men will repair homes and farms before moving their families back to the area in May.
FOB KALSU (May 4, 2008) — About 120 men of the Chalabi tribe returned to their homes recently in the Sayafiyah region, about 25 kilometers southeast of Baghdad, more than a year after being driven out by al-Qaeda in Iraq extremists.
Escorted by Sons of Iraq leader Jumah al-Kazarji and Soldiers of 1st Platoon, Company C, 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), a large convoy of cars and trucks ushered the Chalabi men back to their abandoned village. Their reclamation of homes signaled the hopeful beginning of a new era of peace and security.
The Chalabi village, located approximately 5 kilometers west of Sayafiyah and the Tigris River, used to contain a population of more than 2000. Being a Shia tribe in a Sunni-dominated area, the Chalabis of the Sayafiyah region were a prime target for AQI and other Sunni insurgents.
Driven out of their homes some 18 months ago by AQI, the Chalabis were forced to leave behind farms, animals, equipment and all their seed and fertilizer stored for the coming planting seasons. The village became a ghost town. Uninhabited, homes fell into disrepair and irrigation ditches dried up as security concerns prevented the Chalabis from reclaiming their land.
Now, as the Sayafiyah region returns to peace and stability, the Chalabis are making the first steps toward rebuilding their lives. Those men who have returned from exile are ready to repair their homes and farms. In the coming weeks they will return their families back to the area.
While security is a vital first step, there is still a long road ahead before they can return to their customary way of life. Essential services such as water and electricity must be restored, along with costly repairs to existing buildings and property. However, for the first time in years there is hope among the Chalabis as they return to resume life in a stable environment.