Operation Saratoga in North-Central Iraq

While Coalition forces have been conducting concurrent operations – Iron Fist, River Gate, and Mountaineers in Anbar province, raids in Baghdad, and Restoring Rights in Ninawa province – the soldiers of Task Force Liberty and the 42nd Infantry Division, along side Iraqi Army and police forces, executed Operation Saratoga in the provinces of North-Central Iraq. Operation Saratoga has been ongoing since September; it is a series of security operations in the provinces of Salah Ad Din, Diyala, Kirkuk and As Sulayminayah which are designed “to shape the security environment” for the upcoming elections.

The Iraqi Security Forces have taken serious casualties over the past month, despite their supposed inability to conduct independent operations.

More than 500 Iraqi citizens have been killed or injured by terrorist attacks in Kirkuk, Bayji, Samarra, Ad Duluiyah, Tuz, Baqubah nd Balad. Nearly 80 Iraqi policemen and soldiers have died and another 101 wounded in their fight to protect the Iraqi people since September.

The cities of Bayji, Samarra, Ad Duluiyah, Baqubah nd Balad sit astride the northern ratline on the Tigris River, and have been the focus of attacks by the insurgency, as the attacks density map demonstrates. The insurgency has not quit the fight, and the upcoming elections will force them to escalate the violence in an attempt to derail the process. The Coalition has seized the initiative and is executing broad offensive operations throughout Iraq in an attempt to disrupt and destroy the most dangerous elements of the insurgency, and defeat their plan of sowing chaos during the election process.

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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