Coalition forces maintain the hunt for al Qaeda and insurgents along the Syrian border. Abu Sa’ud, a Saudi al Qaeda commander, and three of his associates were killed when attempting to evade a Coalition dragnet, which was initiated by tips from locals in Ubaydi and intelligence sources. The intel on Sa’ud is interesting; “Intelligence sources believe that Sa’ud recently arrived from Saudi Arabia to shore up the leadership of al Qaeda in Iraq foreign fighter and terrorists cells whose previous leaders have been captured or killed in recent months.” Coalition forces have had great success in decapitating al Qaeda leadership in western Iraq, and if the intelligence is correct, al Qaeda is throwing in the reserves in an attempt to stop the bleeding.
Meanwhile, Syria, the main source of al Qaeda infiltrators into Iraq, continues to complain about U.S. cross border operations. As Coalition forces step up operations on the border, the cross border raids are likely to intensify as Syrian complicity in aiding the insurgency becomes clear. Diplomats cited in the Telegraph are concerned about a showdown between the United States and Syria, but ignore the fact that Iraq has a direct stake in their neighbor’s role in killing Iraqi citizens. This is not merely a U.S. – Syrian problem any longer.
Across Iraq, the Coalition continues to pursue the insurgents. Outside of Abu Ghraib, a cyclists planting IEDs is observed and killed. In Taji, six insurgents are killed and five wounded during an engagement with Coalition forces after they were observed setting IEDs. The insurgents were attacked after attempting to reform and assault Coalition ground units and a supporting attack helicopter. Over sixty-five suspected insurgents are rounded up in two days of operations in Baghdad.
While operations to interdict the insurgency continue in the run up to the December 15th election, security responsibilities continues to be transitioned over to Iraqi forces. The Christina Science Monitor reports on progress in the city of Baquba. According to Lt. Col. Rob Risberg, commander of the 1st Battalion of the Army’s 10th Field Artillery Regiment, the Iraqi Army is to be credited for the success; “The Iraqi Army and the Iraqi police have really come along – they can handle most of what comes their way now… We’re here to back them up, but I think we’re seeing the benefits of getting cops on almost every street corner.”
The Los Angeles Times reports greater control is being turned over to Iraqi Security forces. As Soldier’s Dad’s post earlier today indicates, this is freeing up U.S. combat power to take the fight to the more dangerous areas of Iraq, including Anbar province, to tackle the most dangerous element of the insurgency – al Qaeda and associated jihadis, who also poses a very real threat outside of Iraq’s borders.
Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.