Day Three of Steel Curtain

Operation Steel Curtain , which is aimed at closing down the border crossing to Syria and destroying al Qaeda in the town of Husaybah, is currently in day three. Multinational Forces West confirms thirty six insurgents have been killed over the course of the operation. Capt. Conlin Carabine, a Marine company commander fighting in Husaybah, estimates 60 to 80 insurgents have been killed during the fighting to date. One Marine has been killed and six wounded since the operation began.

al Qaeda and insurgents continue to use schools, mosques and private residences as fighting positions and ammunition dumps. And they continue to target civilians. Three terrorists were killed while attempting to pass through a checkpoint manned by Iraqi Army soldiers which was near a secure zone for non-combatants. Citizens of Husaybah tired of the terrorists’ tactics are turning in jihadis to the Iraqi soldiers operating in the city. According to Lt.Col. Christopher C. Starling, “At a checkpoint yesterday, outside the city, residents offered information to Iraqi Army soldiers leading to the capture of individuals and weapons caches.”

The Army Times reports Marine commanders believe the insurgents in Husaybah may have been caught off guard, as the attack came from the west of the city, as opposed to the east from Sadah where Coalition forces established bases after Operation Iron Fist.

Capt. Brendan Heatherman, the commander of Kilo company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, states, “We surprised them coming into Husaybah from the west… I think they started pulling back to spots where they can set up a better defense.”

It is believed the insurgents have been pushed to several neighborhoods in the eastern edge of Husaybah. The Washington Post states seven of the eleven neighborhoods in the city have been cleared, and Iraqi Army Captain Arkan Hussein predicts “the town will be cleansed within three to four days… Only small pockets of the fighters remained.”

al Qaeda has responed to the Coalition assault on Husaybah. Abu Masayra al-Iraqi, the al Qaeda in Iraq’s spokesman, has warned the Coalition to cease operations in 24 hours or “they will only see from us the worst and something that’s going to make the earth tremble under their feet.” While al Qaeda issues threats, their organization continues to experience horrid attrition rates in Western Iraq. Multinational Forces West confirms two al Qaeda leaders, Abu Umar and Abu Hamza, were killed in raids in Husaybah on November 1. One of those killed, Abu Umar, replaced Abu Asil, who was killed two day prior. Operation Steel Curtain will only make al Qaeda’s ability to operate in Western Iraq all the more difficult.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal.

43 Comments

  • enscout says:

    I’ve been reading your site for many weeks and consider it my primary source for the campaign in Iraq.
    The AQ leader sounds pretty desperate. Any chance of stepped up Syrian or Iranian intervention?

  • Nick says:

    “Three terrorists were killed while attempting to pass through a checkpoint manned by Iraqi Army soldiers which was near a secure zone for non-combatants.”
    Bill, you didn’t mention that the three dead terrorists were dressed as women and atempting to attack the checkpoint. Good thing the IA saw them first and opened fire. They also report the dead as forigners. Sounds pretty desperate to me.

  • Nick says:

    “Three terrorists were killed while attempting to pass through a checkpoint manned by Iraqi Army soldiers which was near a secure zone for non-combatants.”
    Bill, you didn’t mention that the three dead terrorists were dressed as women and atempting to attack the checkpoint. Good thing the IA saw them first and opened fire. They also report the dead as forigners. Sounds pretty desperate to me.

  • James says:

    Bill what do you think should be done about the rapid growth of militias in Iraq?
    —————————————–
    Militias Growing in Power in Iraq
    “The militias are now stronger than the police,” he said. “If there were a government this wouldn’t have happened. It’s like a war of gangs now. The talk of having a government and a parliament is sheer propaganda, for TV only.”
    http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=1289545&page=1

  • Marlin says:

    James –
    I do not think that you can expect the MNF forces to address all of the problems that face Iraq immediately. The Iraqi government will need to learn over time how to address, and solve, these problems on their own. Iraq now has a free press that can report on these items. In turn the Iraqi people can put pressure on their government to address them. From what I can glean this type of sectarian skirmishing has been going on forever in Iraq. Expecting the MNF to suddenly stop it while trying to solve a bigger problem out in al Anbar province doesn’t seem realistic, or appropriate, to me.

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    James,
    I see no evidence cited in the ABC news article that militias are growing in size or power or than the assertion that they are. A little more than a year ago, the Mahdi Army controlled 1/3rd of Baghdad and all of Najaf. Not to mention being particularly unhelpful in Fallujah.
    I would suggest that as AlQueda is ground down, the activities of the militias is becoming more visible.
    Rival street gangs kill each other regularly in many American cities. It is a problem for the Iraqi’s to deal with.

  • nykrindc says:

    Operation Steel Curtain will only make al Qaeda’s ability to operate in Western Iraq all the more difficult.
    I would be interested to hear from you what the plan is for after the fighting. Do we have enough boots to secure Husaybah after we’re through killing and capturing insurgents and terrorists? In most of the operations before this one, we’ve had an issue with not being able to hold onto the ground we capture from the insurgency, due to the fact that we do not have enough troops to spread through such a wide swath of territory. Is this changing? Are we in a better position to do so now that we have a larger Iraqi contingent in the fight? Are they prepared to tackle the job, or will they turn out like the ill fated Fallujah brigade from a couple of years ago which was overwhelmed by the insurgency and eventually either surrendered (and was killed) or joined the insurgents against our forces?
    I would appreciate your insight into these questions, as I think many Americans are loosing their patience with Iraq, because we don’t seem to show progress. I mean how many times can we go into the same towns (Qaim), loose soldiers (kill many insurgents) and then go back again to conduct a similar operation without being able to retain control of the ground captured. Your insight would go a long way toward giving Americans reason to stay in the fight and to know that there is a strategy in place to kill and destroy the insurgency and to eventually bring our troops home.

  • cjr says:

    #4: James:
    Not sure how the reporter can say that there are just 5000 police in Diyala. There are, in addition to that, 2 Iraqi Army brigades with another 6000 troops plus the US 3rdBde/3rdID.
    If the writer cant get the basic facts right, I dont really trust anything else in the article. My guess is that there is an isolated situation in one town and the writer is exaggerating.

  • Mike Hanley says:

    nykrindc,
    Spend a little time here or, better yet, read some of Bill’s earlier posts. There you will find the answers to your questions. The Iraqi forces are gaining strength and capability with each passing week. Comparing them to the Fallujah brigade is helpful in that is clearly demonstrates the very significant progress these forces have made.

  • cjr says:

    #7
    One year ago, there was 1 Iraqi army battalion in Anbar provence. Today there are 10. By February there will be 18.
    One year ago, there were no Iraqi battalions with their own area of responsibility in Iraq. Today there are 23. By January there will be 73.
    In August2004, there where 9 provences that were seriously effected by the insurgency. Today there are 3. This will probabably to drop to 2 by January.

  • Justin Capone says:

    “Huge progress” made in training Iraq troops : US General
    “Huge progress” is being made in training Iraqi combat troops, and 24 homegrown battalions have now taken control of assigned territory, the general formerly in charge of the massive program said.
    Lieutenant General David Petraeus said in an address that by the time of Iraq’s looming election in December, it was hoped to have 230,000 trained and armed Iraq security forces operational.
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20051107/wl_mideast_afp/usiraqmilitarytroops

  • Marlin says:

    nykrindc –
    I would refer to the latest MNF press release dated 11/6/05.
    “Iraqi Army units partnered with Marines from Regimental Combat Team-2 will provide a joint presence in Husaybah after the successful clearing of the city. Previous operations between Iraqi Army units integrated with Marines and Soldiers assigned to the 2nd Marine Division have established a persistent joint presence recently in the cities of Hit, Haditha, Barwana, Haqlaniyah, Sa’dah, Rawah, Amiriyah and Ferris.”
    Based on their previous track record of living up to their promises in the cities mention in the last sentence, I have every reason to believe they also mean it in Husaybah.
    Operation Steel Curtain update

  • senorlechero says:

    It’s about time the terrorists in Husaybah get what they have coming. My son spent 7 months there, from September 2004 until March 2005. He’s a bit bummed that Operation Steel Curtain is happening without him, but happy to see the bad guys being killed.

  • OPERATION STEEL CURTAIN

    Bill Roggio at The Fourth Rail brings you the latest news on our latest military offensive in Iraq, which is aimed at closing down the border crossing to Syria and destroying al Qaeda in the town of Husaybah. One Marine…

  • Justin Capone says:

    I wonder when we will finally know when al-Qaeda in Iraq’s back is broken.

  • Sleepyhead says:

    Seems to me killing insurgent and terrorists is much more important than any ground we might occaisonally control. After all, we’re not going to stay there. Go away for a while and then come back and kill some more, at least we’ll be fighting on more familiar ground each time. Might not be the best plan but it’ll have to do since we won’t chase these guys into Syria.

  • Jamison1 says:

    101st Airborne Division Unit Takes Control of Baghdad Sector
    http://www.dod.mil/news/Nov2005/20051107_3253.html

  • serurier says:

    I’ll say now Iraq need 350000 army , 10000 airforce , 1500-2000 Navy .

  • Justin Capone says:

    Spy in the US leaks classified intel to al-Qaeda
    An Arabic interpreter for the Army may have secretly helped Iraqi insurgents by improperly taking classified documents from Iraq home to Brooklyn, where he made dozens of phone calls to numbers linked to the insurgency, a federal prosecutor said Monday.
    After returning to the U.S. earlier this year, the man had more than 100 cell phone conversations with numbers directly involved with the insurgency, Buretta said, including numbers found at suspected safehouses for Jordanian extremist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq.
    http://tinylink.com/?YeteShURjP

  • ikez78 says:

    Iran has a “peace plan” for the Israeli-Palestine dispute if you wanna believe that.
    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1131367042454&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

  • Rob says:

    The “bring the troops home” meme frightens
    the hell out of me. There is a job to do
    over there and that should be the goal.
    Hard as it is the military is pushing
    through to success. The ground for this
    was laid a year or more ago, when training
    the Iraqi army and other security forces
    was given top priority. The payoff is
    happening now. This is what success looks
    like. Al Qaeda losing and they know it.
    The MSM is losing and they haven’t got a
    clue.

  • Nicholas says:

    #18 – If that ain’t treason, I don’t know what is.
    #19 – Does it involve destroying Israel?

  • Operation Steel Curtain – Day 3

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  • Media Lies says:

    Operation Steel Curtain is going well….

    ….according to Bill Roggio, who provides his usual level of detailed analysis.

    al Qaeda has responded to the Coalition assault on Husaybah. Abu Masayr…

  • Nick Rizzuto says:

    Iran has a peace plan” for the Israeli-Palestine dispute like the wolves have a plan for keeping the sheep safe.

  • cjr says:

    #17:
    Close!
    The current plan is for the Iraqi security forces (army + police + navy + airfore) is 325,000 by mid2007:

  • What? says:

    “I wonder when we will finally know when al-Qaeda in Iraq’s back is broken.”
    The insurgency in Iraq isn’t just AQ. If it was, I suspect the back would probably be in seriously bad shape if not already broken. It will be interesting to see What? if anything AQ can do to back up their 24hour threat.
    I suggest the insurgency’s back will be broken when US WIA casualties are down to 25-30 a week and the number of soldiers KIA per week is down forever into the single digits for 12 weeks in a row.
    To be honest I have been expecting the insurgency as a whole to collapse for the past several months. I still believe that point will come, it’s just a matter of how soon. If they can hold on until next June, I’ll be amazed.

  • Doc Weldon says:

    It’s good to see that “Bagdad Bob” found a job.
    “and if the American’s do not stop this attack in 24 hours they will witness the mother of all surrenders”

  • dmed says:

    Just discovered your site via Michelle Malkin – bookmarked and will be back daily. Great job!

  • blert says:

    #18 Justin
    This agent has lied about just about anything that can be checked out. His court cred is zero.
    This highlights the untold story about the slow rebirth of the new Iraqi Army: the discovery of enemy agents.
    Spotting cowards comes pretty quickly in battle. Doping out who is feeding dope the the enemy is a protracted challenge.
    IIRC, even high ranking Iraqi officers have been fingered and discharged.
    Only when de-toxxed can the new Iraqi Army become really effective. This explains the measured tempo.

  • ikez78 says:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/prem/200511u/kaplan-interview
    New book out to detail the myths in the media about soldiers being disenchanted with the war. Looks pretty good and makes the MSM look pretty foolish once again.

  • ikez78 says:

    “Despite the threat, the chief of staff of Iraq’s army, Gen. Babaker B. Shawkat Zebari, said U.S. and Iraqi forces will expand their operations in Husaybah to include other insurgent strongholds in the Euphrates River valley. He said operations were also planned in Diyala province northeast of Baghdad.”
    From that same article above. Looks like more towns to be tackled soon.

  • Jamison1 says:

    “He said operations were also planned in Diyala province northeast of Baghdad”
    Bill,
    I know you are concentrating on the Marines out West, but if you find out more about operations in Diyala, please pass it along.

  • Hyscience says:

    Operation Steel Curtain Surprises Terrorists

    Marine commanders believe the insurgents in Husaybah may have been caught off guard

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  • ikez78 says:

    The Senate might FINALLY start pursuing journalists who trash our national security. This is a long time overdue and I HOPE its true.
    http://www.drudgereport.com/flash2l.htm

  • James says:

    Al-Qaeda to launch ‘offensive’ in Iraq to counter US operation
    Al-Qaeda’s Iraq operation, led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, said it was launching an offensive in the west of Iraq in response to a major US and Iraqi military operation on the Syrian border.
    ‘Your brothers in the military branch of Al-Qaeda in the Land of Two Rivers are launching today ‘The Conquest of Vengeance’ on behalf of the Sunni community in Al-Qaim,’
    http://www.forbes.com/work/feeds/afx/2005/11/08/afx2324216.html

  • exhelodrvr says:

    James,
    If they do “launch an offense” it will only work to our long-term benefit. Of course, I’m sure the media will spin it otherwise.

  • JimO says:

    You may be the guy with the answer about the SECRET NUMBER that the mass media ignores — how many Iraqis have been killed after they stepped forward to defend their new government and society? I count combat deaths, murders of prisoners, attacks on recruits as well. The approximate figure I’ve been tentatively using is 3000 to 3500, but I sure could use more expert advice.
    Jim Oberg
    author and news media consultant

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    JimO,
    icasualties keeps a fairly close count. At least starting in 2005. In July, it was 5 ISF to each MNF casualty…in October is was a bit more than 2-1. IMHO, it is getting time for them to take control of more battlespace.
    http://icasualties.org/oif/IraqiDeaths.aspx

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