Operation Iron Harvest targets al Qaeda in Miqdadiyah

Map of Diyala province [PDF]. Click to view.

Coalition and Iraqi security forces have launched Operation Iron Harvest, the latest offensive against al Qaeda in Iraq in Diyala province. "Operations are now being concentrated in Miqdadiyah," according to a press release from Multinational Division Iraq.

Al Qaeda in Iraq has established a new "haven" in the region northeast of Miqdadiyah, and has used this base to launch suicide attacks in Baqubah and Baghdad.

Over two brigades of US forces along with an unspecified number of Iraqi troops are involved in the Miqdadiyah operation. "Seven American battalions, accompanied by Iraqi Army units, pushed into a 110-square-mile area in the fertile northern Diyala River Valley in search of 200 insurgents with Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia," The New York Times reported. US and Iraqi forces launched a series of feints in Diyala to confuse al Qaeda's leadership, while most Iraq security forces were intentionally left in the dark on the operation to preserve operational security.

Both Iron Harvest and Phantom Phoenix "are seeing less resistance than expected," Multinational Forces Iraq reported. "There are expectations that the decrease in resistance can be due to leaks in the [Iraqi security forces] or extremists might have seen an increase in helicopters in their areas prior to the operation." US and Iraqi forces have killed or captured over 20 al Qaeda emirs during the first two days of the operation.

Al Qaeda in Iraq safe havens before the surge up until November 2007. Map from The Institute for the Study of War. Click to view.

Operation Iron Harvest is subordinate to Phantom Phoenix. Operation Phantom Phoenix is occurring in the area of operations for Multinational Division North, which spans the provinces of Diyala, Salahadin, Ninewa, and Tamin (Kirkuk). There are over 50,000 Iraqi Army soldiers, 80,000 Iraqi Police, 24,000 US soldiers, and 14,094 members of the Concerned Local Citizens functioning in Multinational Division North's area of operations.

The operations were launched to "pursue and neutralize remaining al Qaeda in Iraq and other extremist elements," said Major General Kevin Bergner, the spokesman for Multinational Forces Iraq. "This effort has been launched to disrupt terrorist support zones and enemy command and control, and is being carried out across Iraq."

For additional information on al Qaeda's safe haven in Miqdadiyah, see Al Qaeda establishes "a haven in Diyala" [Dec. 30] and Seven al Qaeda killed in Miqdadiyah [Jan. 3].


READER COMMENTS: "Operation Iron Harvest targets al Qaeda in Miqdadiyah"

Posted by matthew.d.raymond at January 9, 2008 12:38 PM ET:

The story claims 20 AQI emirs have been killed or captured. If true, that would make this story one of the biggest of the surge timeframe. If we have truly captured/killed 20 emirs (depending on what level of emir they are) this operation could cripple AQI operations in this part of Iraq for a while. I suspect that 20 AQI fighters have been killed/captured not 20 "emirs."

Posted by DJ Elliott at January 9, 2008 2:17 PM ET:


CG MND-N specifically provided eight examples out of the 20 with names and titles.

Look the video up on DVIDs. It is in part 1 of the four part brief...

Posted by matthew.d.raymond at January 9, 2008 3:42 PM ET:

Thanks, I'll check out the video.

Posted by DJ Elliott at January 9, 2008 4:05 PM ET:

PS He also mentioned MND-N has been reinforced for current ops. NFI.

Posted by Soldier's Dad at January 9, 2008 5:15 PM ET:


"If we have truly captured/killed 20 emirs (depending on what level of emir they are) this operation could cripple AQI operations in this part of Iraq for a while."

Today, McClatchy and Reuters reported a total 3 Iraqi civilians killed. Only 3. 20 is the average.

Posted by rickkeyes at January 9, 2008 10:50 PM ET:

Does not sound like the best opsec on the planet either. I also read 9 soldiers killed in a HBIED. 20/9 is not a good ratio but I imagine will get better.

Posted by Cordell at January 10, 2008 5:22 AM ET:


On the map showing AQ areas pre and post surge, there appears to be AQ remnants in many cities. Are most of these cells active, dormant and essentially sleepers, or are they simply unable to regroup will the main AQ body? Moreover, do the AQ emirs still have command and control over these cells or are these remnants on their own?

Answers to these questions can provide a good deal of information on AQ's mindset, morale and expectations of recovering from the surge. One encouraging clue to AQ morale comes from an al Arabiya TV interview with a former AQ in Iraq trainer. The reluctance of this hard-core terrorist to return to Iraq suggests that AQ in Iraq is now in a slow death spiral.