Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Republic Strikes Back In Baghdad

A lot of politicians have been eager to make pronouncements recently on whether or not the "surge" in Baghdad is working—ignoring the fact that the surge has not yet fully been implemented. Only now are we really beginning to see the beginning of a large-scale military campaign made possible by the surge, as US troops follow up the increase in troop strength in Baghdad by launching a big campaign—the biggest since the Second Battle of Fallujah in November 2004—to hunt down insurgents in their last remaining safe havens outside of Baghdad.

See the preliminary report on this campaign in the Daily Telegraph, linked to below. The Washington Post also has a good overview of this campaign, including a few details on a joint US-British assault in Southern Iraq against Mahdi Army networks that have been smuggling Iranian arms into Iraq.

"Al-Qaeda Bases Targeted in Huge US Assault," Damien McElroy, Daily Telegraph, June 19 America launched a massive offensive against al-Qaeda today in territory north-east of Baghdad that has been a stronghold for the group and source of a devastating series of truck bombings in the capital.

As troops rolled out against militant bases in Diyala province, the terrible power of vehicle-borne bombs was displayed in Baghdad as a device exploded at a mosque, killing 75 and injuring scores more.

In an operation that has been in the planning since March, 10,000 American soldiers have been mobilised to strike against a variety of targets across Diyala and inside its capital, Baquba….

The western half of Baquba—the city the dead al-Qaeda leader, Abu Musab Zarqawi, proclaimed as capital of his caliphate last year—was sealed off at the outset of the battle….

"The end state is to destroy the al-Qaeda influences in this province and eliminate their threat against the people," said Brigadier-General Mick Bednarek, deputy commanding general, operations, 25th Infantry Division….

Iraqi army units are fighting alongside the US military in the battle. So too are insurgents loyal to the 1920 Revolution Brigades, a former al-Qaeda ally that has pledged to help purge the group from Iraq.

US commanders have given its loyalists permission to fight while remaining outside the Iraqi force structure. Officials privy to the Diyala battle plans said fighting is expected to last several weeks. The battle plan has been described as equivalent in scale to the 2005 [sic] assault on Fallujah.

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