Clearing operation begins in Samarra as al Qaeda’s emir of Mosul was killed by the Iraqi Army
As the Baghdad Security Plan and Operation Phantom Thunder in the Baghdad Belts of Babil, Anbar, and Diyala provinces move forward, Iraqi and U.S. forces have stepped up operations in the northern areas of Iraq. Today the Iraqi Army announced it shot and killed al Qaeda’s emir of Mosul, while Iraqi Security Forces launched an operation in the city of Samarra in Salahadin province.
Prior to the commencement of Operation Phantom Thunder, the operation to clear al Qaeda and insurgent groups from the Baghdad Belts, we noted that Salahadin, Ninewa, and Tamin provinces would be the likely fallback position for terror groups. Army Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, the commander of Multinational Division North, noted in a press conference today that al Qaeda and its insurgent allies were moving into Salahadin province, particularly the region between Samarra and Balad. Today, the Iraqi Army, backed by local and national police forces, and a U.S. combat battalion, has launched an operation to clear Samarra of al Qaeda fighters attempting to regroup there.
Over 1,000 Iraqi soldiers and an unspecified number of local and national police are now conducting “simultaneous operations in and around the city.” Police rebuilt the security berm on the eastern side of the city and reestablished checkpoints to control the flow of traffic in and out of the city.
Over 2,500 additional Iraqi Army soldiers and police deployed to Samarra in the wake of al Qaeda’s bombing of the minarets of the Al Askaria mosque. The waves of sectarian violence which engulfed Baghdad and the surrounding regions failed materialize as Iraqi and U.S. forces deployed into the cities and Operation Phantom Thunder was launched shortly afterward.
To the north in Mosul, the operational tempo against al Qaeda’s network has been relentless. U.S. and Iraqi Security Forces have conducted numerous raids in the northern city over the past few months, killing or capturing multiple high value targets. The latest raid, by the Iraqi Army, resulted in the death of Safi, al Qaeda’s emir of Mosul.
While conducting a series of operations throughout the city, the Iraqi Army spotted Safi and three bodyguards, and gave chase. Safi and his bodyguards were killed after they pulled over and opened fire on the Iraqi troops. Prior to the killing of Safi, U.S. forces captured Khalid Abdul Fatah Da’ud Mahmud Al Mashadani, a senior Iraqi member of the al Qaeda political front, the Islamic State of Iraq. Mashadani admitted Abu Omar al Baghdadi, the supposed leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, does not exist and he was a creation of al Qaeda.