The battle for control over the Syrian border region in the vicinity of Qaim continues. Jack Kelly points us to a press release from the Marine Corps on an airstrike on an al Qaeda safehouse in the contested town of Husaybah. The fact that terrorists are operating in Husaybah is no surprise, and neither should the fact that the residents of Husaybah were critical in pointing out the location of the terrorist.
At approximately 4:40 p.m. (local) Coalition Forces conducted multiple air strikes against a known terrorist safe house in the western Al Anbar province border town of Husaybah., Multiple calls from Iraqi citizens in Husaybah alerted Marines to a large number of Al Qaeda in Iraq terrorists, associated with Abu Mus’ab Al-Zarqawi gathering in an abandoned building northeast of the city. Iraqi citizens reported that approximately 50 terrorists were in the building at the time of the air strike. The terrorists were using their position to attack the residents of the city with small-arms fire.
Marine F-18D ‘Hornets’ destroyed the building using a combination of precision-guided bombs and rockets.
For the past five months, Marines based at Husaybah have reported an escalation in fighting between AQIZ terrorists and local tribes. Reports indicate that AQIZ terrorists have been attempting to wrestle control of the city from the hands of its citizens. Local leaders and sheikhs in western Al Anbar are resisting AQIZ’s murder and intimidation campaign.
Captain Pool, the author of the press release, states to Mr. Kelly; “I see this as further signs of regular Iraqi citizens getting fed up with the terrorists.” We have seen several examples of this in Qaim and elsewhere along the Euphrates River.
Reuters reports there are active street battles being fought between the tribes that support the government and those who support al Qaeda (note: this further degrades the meme that the majority of Sunnis in Anbar are insurgent/al Qaeda friendly).
Clerics in the town say members of the Karabilah tribe — allied to al Qaeda — attacked homes of the rival Albu-Mehel tribe — many of whom are members of Iraq’s new security forces in their province of Anbar.
Witnesses from the town said the tribes were involved in intense firefights and mortar attacks in the streets. The U.S military confirmed that two tribes were fighting but had no information on casualties.
The Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reports that the air strikes in Qaim are directly related to the tribal fighting; “US warplanes interfered to bomb the gunmen’s locations in Al-Qaem.” Coordinated air strikes require a certain degree of cooperation. If correct, this indicates there are stronger ties forming between US forces and the anti-al Qaeda tribes in region.
The insurgency’s area of operations is already shrinking to the Sunni dominated areas of Iraq. Just as the Taliban has struggled to gain any ground against the combined Afghani and Coalition forces in Afghanistan, the local Iraqi tribes in Anbar coupled with US military might to fight against al Qaeda would prove to be a formidable obstacle for the insurgency to overcome. Add the arriving Iraqi Army units that can allow US troops to operate more freely, and a military victory for the insurgency is highly unlikely. Their only hope is for America to lose its will to fight.
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