The operations along the stretch of the Euphrates River from Qaim to Baghdad will not abate any time soon. Major General Rick Lynch has stated, “We’re going to fight our way to the [October 15] referendum, and we’re going to fight our way to the [December 15] election.” According to MG Lynch, there are over 4,800 U.S. forces and 4,200 Iraqi troops in the fight, and the purpose of the operations are threefold; “That we deny terrorists and foreign fighters the Euphrates river valley as an avenue of approach into Iraq; that we deny any safe havens to the insurgency along the Euphrates river valley; and we … allow the Iraqi government to re-establish control over their border with Syria.”
MG Lynch also verifies what we discussed yesterday – the Coalition is carefully funneling access across the Euphrates to specific locations. We identified Rawah as one location. MG Lynch explains the tactic; “There were 12 bridges from the Syrian border to Ramadi. Were is the operative term. There are now four. Those four that remain are under the control of the Iraqi Security Forces and coalition forces.”
The breakdown of the bridges from Qaim to Ramadi is as follows (from west to east, data obtained via visual scan on Google Earth. I was only able to confirm 11 bridges visually.)
|Location||Number of Bridges|
|Khan al Baghdadi||1|
There are also two bridges in Habbaniyah and two in Fallujah. A look at the map will show the Coalition maintains a strong presence at each and every crossing point. This is no accident. The Coalition has chosen to segment the Euphrates River at cities and towns that possess bridges across the river, and will be on hand to control the crossing points when the time comes to reopen the bridges.
We know the three bridges in and around Haditha have been severed, as well as the bridges out west in Ubaydi. The likelihood is the crossings at Khan al Baghdadi and Hit have been disabled as well, leaving a crossing open in Rawah to the west and Ramadi to the East (note that a goal of Operation Mountaineers was securing a railroad bridge in the south of the city). The Coalition now effectively controls traffic across the Euphrates River. Insurgents and terrorists wishing to transverse the river must now run the river gates established Rawah and Ramadi.
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