Update on Operation Swarmer
Joint U.S. and Iraqi cordon & search operation enters day 2
Iraqi troops from the 4th Division dismount from a Chinook during Operation Swarmer. Image courtesy of U.S. Navy/mate 3rd class Shawn Hussong.
As day two of Operation Swarmer near completion, further details about the raid are unearthed. Bloomberg provides an excellent summary of the scope and progression of the operation. The area of operations is a 100 square mile region northeast of Samarra, which is concentrating on the towns of Jillam, Mamlaha, Banat Hassan and Bukaddou. Some have incorrectly reported the assault was directly on Samarra proper and included intense air-to-ground fire. The fact is Swarmer is directed at the outlying areas of Samarra and no airstrikes were conducts. An Air Assault is the insertion of troops via air, and may or may not involve air strikes.
Salahaddin's Governor, Abdallah Hussein, states the target of the strike is "a mix of local nationals and foreign fighters" and believes "about 200 insurgents were active in the area, including members of the Sunni extremist group Jaish Muhammad [Army of Muhammad]." U.S. intelligence believes about 40 insurgents are in the region. At this point, fifty suspected insurgents have been detained, and thirty have been held for further questions. Six weapons caches have been uncovered, and no Iraqi or Coalition casualties have been reported at this time.
In December of 2005, we reported that due to the successful operation in Anbar province, "the core of the insurgency has moved back to the central environs of Iraq. Terrorist attacks continue in the capital of Baghdad. The cities and towns on the Tigris River directly north and west of Baghdad are a bastion of the Baathist insurgency." Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari echoes this sentiment, "After some of the operations that were carried out successfully in the Euphrates Valley, or near the Syrian border, many of these insurgency groups moved to other parts of the country, to Diyala, to Samarra, to some other parts around Baghdad."
The main focus of operations has clearly shifted to the regions around Baghdad, and a brigade-size air assault such as Swarmer is an indication of this.