The region north of the city of Miqdadiyah remains al Qaeda in Iraq-controlled territory. Raids against al Qaeda in Iraq occur in the Miqdadiyah region on a daily basis, while al Qaeda continues to launch attacks into Baqubah, the provincial capital of Diyala on an almost daily basis.
The latest Coalition raid in Miqdadiyah occurred on Jan. 3, resulting in seven al Qaeda fighters killed. Coalition special forces, part of Task Force 88, the hunter-killer teams assigned to hunt al Qaeda’s networks, “targeted associates of an al Qaeda in Iraq leader allegedly responsible for coordinating and directing a large terrorist group, and carrying out executions in the Diyala River Valley region.” Coalition forces called in an airstrike on a safe house, killing two al Qaeda operatives. Five additional al Qaeda terrorists were killed in a follow-on raid.
In other operations on Jan. 3, Iraq soldiers captured “a high ranking commander in al Qaeda’s network” in Diyala province, Voices of Iraq reported. The “Iraqi Army 5th Division, 2nd Brigade troops managed to capture a high ranking commander in al Qaeda’s network called Nu’aman al Ubaidi in a military operation conducted at Tahweelah village belonging to Khalis, 15 [kilometers] north of Baqubah,” said Staff General Salem al Mandalawi, the 5th Division commanding officer. Ubaidi “worked as a lieutenant in the 5th Division, before leaving the army and joining al Qaeda members.” Two US soldiers were also killed and one wounded during operations in Diyala province, Multinational Forces Iraq reported.
The day prior, an al Qaeda suicide bomber, dressed as a woman, flung himself on the hood of a car and killed four Iraqis and wounded six. His target was Sheikh Abu Sajaad, a leader in the Baqubah Awakening Council. Sajaad was killed in the attack.
The Long War Journal recently identified Diyala province as one of the most dangerous regions in Iraq. Miqdadiyah was singled out as a “haven” for al Qaeda in Iraq. The situation in Diyala has deteriorated so badly that an indefinite provincial-wide curfew has been imposed. “Owing to the bad security situation in Diyala province, the Diyala operations command will impose an indefinite vehicle curfew on Friday all over the province from the morning,” provincial military operations chief Brigadier General Raghib al Omeiri announced in a statement late today, AFP reported.
Brigadier General James Boozer, the Deputy Commander of Multinational Division North, stated that Miqdadiyah, Baqubah, and Mosul are the most dangerous cities in Iraq, and 60 percent of the violence occurs in the North. “Diyala is a crucial line of communication that the enemy wants to keep and that they were using to go to Baghdad,” said Boozer. “That line is now pretty sealed.” But the violence continues in Diyala as al Qaeda in Iraq attempts to destroy the Awakening and related Concerned Local Citizens movements fighting the terror groups.
Since the New Year, Iraqi and US forces have killed at least nine al Qaeda operatives and captured 20 during operations in the Baqubah and Miqdadiyah regions. On Jan. 1, US soldiers killed two and captured seven members of an al Qaeda IED cell in Buhriz and captured four more north of Miqdadiyah. On the same day Iraqi security forces captured an al Qaeda leader in Khalis and arrested four members of Buhriz’s popular committees for involvement with al Qaeda. On Dec. 31, police captured a senior al Qaeda leader and two associated in Baqubah.
US and Iraqi forces continue to work to dismantle al Qaeda’s network in Diyala and nationwide. Multinational Forces Iraq identified 51 senior al Qaeda members as killed or captured in December, Major General Kevin Bergner, the spokesman for Multinational Forces Iraq said in a Jan. 2 briefing. Among them were “8 regional, city and functional emirs, 9 cell leaders, 6 that were involved in media and propaganda activities, 5 foreign terrorist facilitators, 7 vehicle bomb and improvised explosive device facilitators, and 16 other facilitators, such as religious advisors, financiers, intelligence gatherers and weapons traffickers,” said Bergner.
Included in the 10 most significant al Qaeda operatives identified in December was Salam Hadi Alwan, al Qaeda in Iraq’s media emir, who was killed in a Dec.-4 raid in Khan Bani Sa’ad, just south of Baqubah. “He was new in this position having replaced the previous Emir who was killed in November,” said Bergner.
See Al Qaeda establishes “a haven in Diyala,” written on December 30, 2007 for more information.