Operation Iron Fist has ended, and is officially a clear & hold operation, as we predicted on day one. Captain Jeffrey Pool confirms this in his latest press release:
Coalition Forces have established new outposts in Sa’dah in order to maintain a presence in the area. These positions will sustain ongoing operations to defeat the flow of Al Qaeda in Iraq terrorists from Syria along the Euphrates River Valley.
The operation resulted in more than 50 Al Qaeda in Iraq terrorists killed.
There is no confirmation if Iraqi troops will participate in manning the outposts, but if they are not there they will be in the near future. The Iraqi Army does not appear to be operating in force (multi-battalion level) west of Ramadi, but this is a goal of Operation Hunter, of which Iron Fist is of but a piece.
Yesterday, I reported the number of terrorists killed during the operation as seventy-five. The discrepancy is due to the inclusion of the twenty terrorists killed during airstrikes in nearby Husaybah. Multi National Forces – West does not include these casualties as part of Iron Fist. I view the airstrike as part of the “ongoing operations to defeat the flow of Al Qaeda in Iraq terrorists from Syria along the Euphrates River Valley”, hence the inclusion of these casualties within Iron Fist.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.