The US military has released a statement that Operation Matador is over:
“Marines, sailors and soldiers from Regimental Combat Team-2, 2nd Marine Division successfully completed Operation Matador today, concluding a seven-day operation securing objectives in and around the Euphrates River cities of Karabilah, Ramana and Ubaydi, near the Syrian border,” a statement said.
The curious portion of this statement is that there is no mention of operations in the city of Qaim, even though heavy fighting has occurred there. It is unlikely the fighting is over. Matador has moved from the offensive stage of the operation (positioning and maneuvering the attack force) to the mop up phase.
The Hindustan Times backs up the assertion that there was a conflict between al Qaeda and the local tribes:
According to witnesses and the US military, the offensive triggered intense clashes in the town of Al-Qaim between fighters loyal to Zarqawi, Al-Qaeda’s frontman in Iraq and the most wanted militant in the country, and a rival Sunni tribe in the border city.
It must be remembered the local leaders in Qaim requested US intervention. It is possible the price to be paid was a commitment by the locals to fight the jihadis themselves. The tactics used in Qaim may be much like those used against the Taliban in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom: local fighters acting as the infantry while the US provides backup by cordoning the city and inserting Special Forces teams to coordinate air, artillery and other forms of support. This can explain why US forces have not entered the city.
Arthur Chrenkoff picks upon an item I noticed in my readings. “BBC destroying a town in order to save its spin.”