The Coalition appears to be conducting a comprehensive operation along a segment of the Euphrates River. The area of operations appears to stretch from Ramadi in the east to Khan-Al-Baghdadi in the west. Buried at the bottom of an Associate Press article on a multitude of news from Iraq:
West of Baghdad, U.S. forces kept up pressure on insurgents near their Ramadi stronghold. Al-Sharqiyah television said the Americans operating in Hit detained more than 40 men who served in Saddam’s armed forces in ranks ranging from major to brigadier general. The U.S. military did not report the arrests. Ramadi is 70 miles west of Baghdad, and Hit is another 15 miles west.
Ramadi police Lt. Yarub al-Duleimi said American forces blew up three houses in the region, claiming they contained weapons caches. Police Lt. Mohammed Al-Obaidi said a roadside bomb destroyed a U.S. patrol vehicle in the city center at dawn. There was no report of casualties from either the Iraqis or the Americans.
The U.S. is increasing the number of troops in Anbar. An important operating base has been established in Rawah on the north bank of the Euphrates River. A battalion from the 48th Brigade Combat Team has been assigned to operate “west near the Syrian border.” According to the press release, “That battalion will be the only one responsible for controlling a specific piece of terrain” – its mission is to secure a certain area.
In June, the 4,000 man force of the 28th Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, from the Pennsylvania National Guard deployed to Anbar. Last month the 2nd Battalion of the 69th Armor Regiment “attach[ed] itself to a Marine outfit 150 kilometers away.” The Marines are operating in Anbar. Elements of the 42nd Division (172nd Armored Regiment) have been assigned to the area, and are taking casualties. The second battalion from the 82nd Airborne Division, the 3/504 Parachute Infantry Regiment, has been assigned to Khan-Al-Baghdadi, west of Hit (pictured). It is no accident that the other battalion from the 82nd, the 2/325, showed up in Tal Afar during the fighting. These units are augmenting the Coalition efforts to strike at the insurgency.
As stated on Friday, there is a Marine battalion in Ramadi, (I believe it is accompanied by an Iraqi battalion), as well as an established police force – note in the AP article above that two officers openly give their names to the press, something they would not be likely to do if they did not feel somewhat secure. There are about 3,000 troops from the Iraqi Intervention Force in Habbaniyah. There is a Marine battalion in Hit, with accompanying Iraqi Army and police units.
The operations appear to be conducted along segments of the Euphrates. Earlier this month, the focus was on the Qaim-Haditha corridor. These were search and destroy operations, designed to keep the enemy off balance. The Iraqi Security Forces, with the help of U.S. military, appears to be poised to execute the clear and hold in the Hit-Ramadi corridor. If the forces are available, and they look to be, the timing is right to secure these cities and towns just prior to the October 15th referendum on the constitution.
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