Stirring the Hornet’s Nest

The push to secure the Sunni Triangle continues. As discussed in Into the Sunni Triangle, Fallujah was but one step in the ongoing offensive to restore order prior to elections and strike a blow to the insurgency. American, British and Iraq forces (estimated at around 5,000 troops) are now conducting operations to rout the Islamofascists in the “Triangle of Death” , a region within the Sunni Triangle directly south of Baghdad marked by the towns of Yusufiyah, Latifiyah and Mahmudiyah (see map below). This area has been an ambush zone for Coalition convoys as well as Shi’ite pilgrims traveling to and from the holy sites in southern Iraq.

Elements of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and Iraqi Commando units are pressing the assault while the British Black Watch and Queen’s Dragoon Guards are acting as a blocking force to prevent the enemy’s escape.

Hundreds of Iraqi insurgents are trapped inside the “Triangle of Death” following the American assault on Fallujah and the blocking of key escape routes by the Black Watch, according to a British military intelligence officer. He said a “hornet’s nest” of insurgents had been stirred by the arrival of the Black Watch and the Queen’s Dragoon Guards three weeks ago. “British troops and US forces have sealed off the insurgents’ escape routes and they have nowhere to go,” he said. “They are fixed in that area and they are angry.”

The ubiquitous Zarqawi is believed to be in this region, after tucking tail and running from Fallujah. The fall of Fallujah has forced the Islamofascists to uproot their operations and reestablish bases in outlying areas of Iraq. The protection afforded by a large city the size of Fallujah shrinks Zarqawi’s comfort zone and will put him on the run, decreasing his command, control and communications capabilities and making him more susceptible to Coalition sweeps.

The shadow of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi hangs over this bitter conflict. The US military and Iraqi sources say the Jordanian militant leader has taken refuge in the area after leaving Fallujah.

The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) is the American force involved in the operation, with the British Black Watch providing a more defensive, blocking role. Two or three times a week raids are carried out in isolated farms in the hunt for Zarqawi and his senior lieutenants, while firefights take place every day.

The two sides are acutely aware of the strategic significance of the towns of Mahmudiyah, Latifiyah and Yusufiyah and their hinterland. This is the home of the Sunni insurgency and also the routes through which its forces move to carry the war to Ramadi, Mosul, and Baghdad. The area was once, in effect, under insurgent control and was well known for kidnappings as well as frequent attacks on US and government forces.

The Sunni terrorists in the area can trace their roots back to the machinations of Saddam Hussein, who encouraged the slaughter of Shi’ites by transplanting Sunni allies into the Triangle of Death. To incite the locals to fight, they are paying for attacks on Coalition forces, with the highest prize paid for dead Americans.

According to Jaber, insurgent leaders in the area offer cash bounties for killing certain kinds of people: $1,000 for a Shiite, $2,000 for a member of the Iraqi National Guard and $3,000 for an American.


Some Iraqis attribute the trouble in the area to demographic changes in the 1980s, when Saddam Hussein relocated large numbers of Sunni Muslims into what historically has been a largely Shiite area. The plan was to settle members of his own religious community along main routes from Baghdad to the Shiite heartland of the south.

Saddam recruited members of Sunni clans and tribes in the area into the Republican Guard and the intelligence services. During the failed Shiite uprising of 1991, Sunnis, especially from the al-Janabat tribe, were used to curb the rebellion.

Many of the Sunnis that relocated to the “triangle of death,” including the al-Janabats, came from Anbar, the volatile Sunni province at the heart of the insurgency where Fallujah is located.

Coalition forces believe the vanguard of the Islamofascists are now fighting in the Triangle of Death, as their methods of fighting are showing a level of sophistication not yet encountered. The calling cards of the jihadis – intimidation, murders and beheadings – are also present. The Islaomofascists recognize the threat of Iraqis that support the interim government and use every method possible to destroy their will.

Lieutenant Michael Loring Mayne, who was involved in the battle at Yusufiyah, said: “What is very noticeable is that we are coming across well-trained fighters. In Yusufiyah they carried out a fighting withdrawal. That is not easy; it needs skill and discipline. We faced some pretty fierce and sustained fire and some of it was at pretty close quarters, some of my guys were pretty badly hurt.

“Pretty vicious things are going on here. We have had beheadings of people they suspect of helping us or the Iraqi government, and there are also murders of families of policemen and soldiers. This is about as nasty as it gets.”

Some Shi’ites are not taking the murder of their brothers lying down, and have organized vigilante groups to counterattack terrorist organizations that target Shi’ites. The Wahhabis and their brand of radical Islam are becoming increasingly unpopular in Iraq.

In Basra, a group called the “Brigades of Anger” has emerged, vowing to defend Shiites in Iraq from any group deemed a threat. A leader of the group, Dheya al-Mahdi, told The Associated Press that he will give the go-ahead for his followers to avenge the killing of Shiites. Al-Mahdi blames Wahhabis, an extreme sect of Sunni Islam dominant in Saudi Arabia, for encouraging and funding operations aimed at Shiites in Iraq.

The Kurd and Shi’ites’ willingness to fight back against their longtime Sunni oppressors and stand for their government indicates the people of Iraq are growing tired of the insurgency and are willing to take responsibility to defeat it. The risk of inflamed violence between Shia and Sunni, and Kurd and Sunni (as evidenced by the assassination of Sunni clerics in Mosul) must be managed by the Coalition so as not to balloon into a full scale civil war. All the more reason that the conquest of the Sunni Triangle is vital to the future of Iraq.

(Note: the map used in this post has been copied from Global Security and edited for size. My apologies for the look, but this Tactical Pilotage map was the best one I could find with the towns oulined and the cities of Baghdad and Fallujah in view.)

Click on the map for a larger image.

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

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  • tom f says:

    By the way:
    Cpl.A.Bock said on Sunday November 21, 2004:
    “I am sorry to tell you that Brig. Gen Mark Kimmitt was KIA just about two months ago in an ambush on the road to Baghdad airport. The info is still classified but I don’t care, I lost both of my legs in a IED.”

  • Bill H says:

    Did Cpl Block give his unit designation? Where did he get the info?

  • Sunni Triangle Squeeze

    The Sunni triangle of death is shrinking. The terrorists mastermind Zarqawi is believed to be here, and the noose is tightening. We will get him, and his murderous cohorts, and the military will be hailed as the Heroes that they…

  • Ryan says:

    These battles shouldn’t be as tough as Fallujah. These are smaller towns without the large concentration of insurgents that Fallujah had.

  • tony says:

    I saw General Kimmitt live on Fox the other day. He didn’t look KIA to me.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Agreed. If I did not get this across in the post, I think the importance of this is our pursuit of the enemy; we are not resting after taking Fallujah. These operations appear to be well timed and coordinated, with the Black Watch well positioned to block the exits from Fallujah, then later from the Triangle of Death. I don’t think this is an accident.

  • rancher3 says:

    By the way, there are reports that we only have 60% of Fallujah, not all of it as CNN (the “trusted” news source) may say. And we are being hit from the rear as well. And that we have resorted to using chemicals in Fallujah because of our higher than reported casualties. You can choose not to believe it and continue watching CNN or FOX. I believe Al-Jazeera and another Chinese media outlet have reported this. I’m still searching for more.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Rancher3, also known as JR from the prior post, Into Mosul… There’s no need to continually change your identity here. And the IP address that you leave when you comment does not lie. As I responded in the last post:
    Were using chemical weapons…. losing in Fallujah…. Sounds like someone likes to read Jihad Unspun, the voice of the “resistance”, a bit too much. That’s where you’ll get your 60% story, as well at the chemical weapons report. Even Al Jazeera isn’t that far out.
    Enjoy your alternate reality.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    No doubt JR/rancher3 still believes Baghdad Bob, and American forces have been routed at the Baghdad Airport. Thanks for the comic relief.

  • jr says:

    Actually, rancher3 is a different person. In case you think that multiple people can’t use the same machine with the same IP. No, thank YOU for the comic relief.
    Thanks for the link though. I’ll check it out.
    By the way, where does the main source of ‘your’ reality come from?

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Wow, you and rancher3 must share the same brain and the same PC! You even phrase your comments the same. You are fooling no one, so drop the charade. It causes me to question your grasp on reality. You see, when you type something at this site, it lasts:
    By the way, there are reports that we only have 60% of Fallujah, not all of it as CNN (the “trusted” news source) may say. And we are being hit from the rear as well. And that we have resorted to using chemicals in Fallujah because of our higher than reported casualties. If you don’t believe it, I don’t care either. You can continue watching CNN or FOX.
    By the way, there are reports that we only have 60% of Fallujah, not all of it as CNN (the “trusted” news source) may say. And we are being hit from the rear as well. And that we have resorted to using chemicals in Fallujah because of our higher than reported casualties. You can choose not to believe it and continue watching CNN or FOX. I believe Al-Jazeera and another Chinese media outlet have reported this. I’m still searching for more.
    I report, you decide.
    Look at my sidebar, you’ll see a wide variety of sources from all over the planet. Or try linking to the sources in the posts. It’s easy, just click on them.
    Enjoy Jihad Unspun, it’s right up your alley. You should be able to get all of the ‘facts’ you need straight from the mouths of those that relish in beheading civilians. You problably would love and the World Socialist Web Site as well – all the ‘facts’ that communists and terrorist sympathizers love to cite, right at your fingertips!

  • Bill H says:

    Multiple people, or multiple personalities? Most of the articles I was able to find on chemical use in Fallujah quote an unnamed doctor, and all seem to come from the same original source, Unspun. How does this doctor decide if the chemical weapons that allegedly killed these people were deployed by US forces? Does the doctor have any specific information, like the kind of chemicals used? So far this story has all the credibility of an urban legend. It’s always a joy to run into someone who always thinks the worst of our actions. It’s good to know Al-Jazeera can at least coutn on YOU to believe.

  • Ryan says:

    You’re right. We cannot rest. If we’re going to have these elections, we have to relentlessly pursue the insurgents straight for the next 2 months. Ramadi has to be pacified next and a few other
    Sunni triangle cities as well.

  • jr says:

    Funny how people like Bill have a real tough time with views that oppose his. Wow Bill, man, we should all learn from you. America is never at fault. We are INVINCIBLE!! Hey, is Superman for real? Maybe he can fly to Iraq and kick some terrorist butt.
    So tell me Bill, what sites are up your alley?, or… hmmm or …nevermind, I could go on but I won’t.
    I will however check out your sidebar links. No hard feelings there Bill. Nice site.

  • Bill H says:

    Do you have any sources besides Al Jazeera, and some unknown Chinese site? Do you spend any time to question the motives of those providing your “facts”, or do they fit so nicely with your “evil empire” theory that you don’t bother?

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Actually, you can ask Beard or Ryan, two frequent commenters whom I often disagree with, about how I deal with dissenting views. Or read some old posts and the comments. We present our cases, attempt to discuss the facts and agree to disagree when the time comes. One thing we do not do is rely on sites like Jihad Unspund for hard news.
    No where do I claim America is perfect, and I believe what we are doing now is making up for years of mistakes of American and European foreign policy.
    No hard feeling here at all, just some good natured ribbing on my part. Your name-switching was dishonest, and I wanted to call you on it.
    If you wish to have a reasonable debate, you are more than welcome here. But be prepared to back your statements up with reasonable sources (sorry, Jihad Unspun doesn’t cut it), or the readers here will let you know about it.

  • jr says:

    I’ll be happy to site my sources or links. And, really, my friends do comment on here. So it isn’t just me.
    Anyways, I haven’t read jihad unspun. What’s wrong with it?
    Question for you Bill, don’t you think it would be hard to get a European or American based report on what is really happening in Fallujah or elsewhere in Afghanistan or Iraq whereas an Arab reporter would have a much easier time to get in there among the insurgents? Or do you not trust Arabs at all? Just a question.

  • Ryan says:

    Yeah, Bill is pretty open to dissenting views on this blog. Nobody is ever censored, personally insulted or anything like that. Jihad Unspun is a B/S website. That is not real news. If you want real news from a liberal perspective, try the New York Times.
    Here is what is really going on in Iraq:
    The insurgency has been weakened by the Fallujah operation but is nowhere near put down. US forces are still in a difficult struggle but appear to be getting the upper hand. However, this war is nowhere near over.

  • Bill H says:

    I trust Arab reporters about as much as I trust any reporters. Not much. Unfortunately, the media in general seems to be more interested in spin than substance, whether its The NY Times or Al Jazeera. Considering the lack of stories regarding American atrocities from multiple news sources, I take these stories with more skepticism. I supppose when we get beyond unnamed sources, and anonymous doctors, I’ll give it more creedence. Until then, it falls into the category of propoganda.

  • Bill H says:

    Not bringing up the NY times from your post Ryan. Substitute FOX News in my previous post.

  • Beard says:

    Yes, this blog is pretty open to dissenting opinions, but it is a continuing struggle to keep the discourse civil and courteous.
    A useful rule is that sarcasm and friendly ribbing are OK with your friends, but not with strangers or people you disagree with. Texas has a long tradition of courtesy, especially with strangers. It may have something to do with the long tradition of people carrying guns (not always terribly civilized people either). (Possibly they could have used more of that in Wisconsin recently.)
    I’ve been presenting a number of liberal and (non-neo-)conservative positions here (a more compatible combination than many people realize). As long as I present them seriously and courteously, with suitable citations, I am responded to in kind.
    Nice folks. Some are more willing than others to respond to what you’ve actually said, rather than responding to keywords with slogans. But Bill R runs a good blog.

  • Tom F says:

    Bill, et al…
    Someone apparently used my name and email address in the top comment. I have no knowledge of Gen Kimmett, have never been to Iraq, and still have use of my legs. I will use the typekey identity login from now on. To whatever idiot who used my name and email address: thanks jerk.

  • Tom Falcon says:

    Okay, re-reading the top comment I see that the imposter Tom F was actually quoting someone about Kimmett. Still, it’s irritating to have have my signature line co-opted. I’m using that typekey service to avoid this problem in the future.

  • Beard says:

    Bill wrote: “The risk of inflamed violence between Shia and Sunni, and Kurd and Sunni (as evidenced by the assassination of Sunni clerics in Mosul) must be managed by the Coalition so as not to balloon into a full scale civil war. All the more reason that the conquest of the Sunni Triangle is vital to the future of Iraq.”
    This is correct and important. It is very tempting to take pleasure in the Sunnis getting back a helping of what they have been dishing out. But the Coalition, and more importantly the Iraqi Provisional Government, must walk a very fine line to avoid falling into civil war.
    On the path to a civilized country, the first step is for the government to establish a monopoly on the use of violence. The second step is to decrease the violence done *by* the government to a minimum as well. (And there are more steps, certainly.)
    Sunnis killing Shiites violates that monopoly, and must be stopped, but so does Shiites killing Sunnis, no matter how provoked. Self-defense is one thing; assassination is another.
    Remember all those old Westerns where the Sheriff risks his life to make sure that some outlaw gets a fair trial, rather than being lynched by the outraged town-folks? This is why. Even if the guy is genuinely guilty.

  • Jason M says:

    Nobody is ever censored here.
    Would that it were so, Ryan.
    Bill has pulled all of my posts since mid-September. It’s his perogative, of course. It’s his site, and he can present reality as he sees fit. Which is why he’ll probably pull this post too.
    But Ryan, if you happen to catch this post before it is pulled, don’t kid yourself that this is a First Amendment zone.
    Keep fighting the good fight…

  • Bill Roggio says:

    If I walked into you home, called it ugly and insulted your wife, would you ask me to leave? Would you welcome me back? Would that make you a censor?
    I’ve explained many times why you get your posts pulled. You go out of your way to insult me and this site. I asked you numerous times to not do this, but you are a coward and do not reply to my emails.
    In the holiday spirit, I will allow you to comment. But if you fall back into your old patterns, you will be deleted.
    I have my rules, and will enforce them. If you don’t like it, excercise your right to comment somewhere else.

  • DaveK says:

    As far as who to believe??? Well, there are lots of “reports” out there. However, the folks at Jihad Unspun and Xinhua (just as examples) have such a bad track record that it’s hard to take them seriously. All too many of their reports on the war have proven to be wild exagerations at best, and complete fabrications at worst.
    While CNN and some others in the Western, mainstream media may not in the end prove to be 100% accurate, they usually get a good portion of the story right.
    You just have to look at several sources, compare the reports, and see what holds together.

  • Bill H says:

    Good points Beard. It’s hard to feel sympathy for the previous regime’s oppressors, but the rule of law MUST prevail. Would it be shocking to find that the recent assassinations of Sunni clerics were undertaken by anti U.S./ anti Shiite factions to try and unite Sunnis against them?


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram