Haqlaniyah appears to be the focus of Coalition efforts at this stage of Operation River Gate. More weapons caches and improvised explosive devices are uncovered. A Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED or car bomb) is discovered at a school in Haqlaniyah and destroyed by Coalition air support. Coalition Forces uncovered a weapons cache outside of Haqlaniyah which “consisted of bomb-making materials, numerous weapons and ammunition, and several computer discs with Arabic writing.”
The computer discs will be analyzed in hopes of gaining intelligence on insurgent activities and their command and organizational structure. As we have seen numerous times throughout Iraq, and most recently in Hit, the right piece of intelligence can lead to the destruction of entire terror cells and brigades. The Haditha-Haqlaniyah-Barwana region was a bastion for al Qaeda in Iraq, and Zarqawi is believed to have had a home in the area. Any information gathered from this region will be scrutinized by Coalition intelligence. Task Force 626 lies in wait to pounce on Zarqawi’s command.
Antonio Castaneda has an article on Haditha well worth reading. He is embedded with the Marines of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment, who are operating in Haditha. He notes the change in the region; “Marines note the war, at least in this region, has evolved since their last tour. Insurgents are now hiding instead of controlling entire neighborhoods.” The Marines report their roles have switched from strictly warfighting to that of policeman, detective and diplomat.
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