The Press Along the Euphrates

The Coalition has initiated a broad offensive along the entire length of the Euphrates River, from Qaim in the West all the way to Baghdad in the east. Operation Iron Fist is focused on the border town of Sa’dah and its surroundings. Operation River Gate is aimed at towns of Haditha, Haqlaniyah and Barwana at a central point along the river. Operation Mountaineers was directed at southern neighborhoods in Ramadi. And a series of raids in Baghdad are underway to detain insurgents and uncover their infrastructure.

The Associated Press‘ Antonio Castaneda describes the assault on the Haditha region, which included a helicopter assault, the destruction of bridges to seal the town and preventing the enemy from escaping, roads lined with IEDs and a jihadi call to arms from a mosque in Haditha that went unanswered. Marine officers report residents are being cooperative and providing intelligence.

Iraqi Army lieutenant Saad Mahdi Amiri, who is fighting alongside the Marines and soldiers in River Gate, states the majority of the neighborhoods in Haditha, Haqlaniyah and Barwana have been subdued, and 86 suspected insurgents have been detained; “The armed men are the remnants of al Qaeda who escaped from Qaim to these areas, and we are chasing them here.”

While the fighting rages in Western Iraq, the Coalition is conducting multiple cordon and search operations in Baghdad. From September 28 thru 30, multiple massive ammo dumps were discovered and seventy-eight suspected insurgents were captured:

During one dismounted patrol on Sept. 28, Task Force Baghdad Soldiers were approached by an Iraqi citizen who told the unit about a large weapons cache in the Radwiniyah district of west Baghdad.

When the Soldiers investigated, they found 175 sticks of dynamite, 109 grenades, 149 rockets, mortar and artillery rounds, two rocket launchers, 46 anti-personnel mines and 20 pounds of TNT. The cache also contained 28 rocket-propelled grenades, 23 fragmentation grenades, one missile, one machine gun with 1,000 rounds of ammunition and bomb making materials.

Task Force Baghdad Soldiers also seized nine missiles, seven rocket launchers, 20 rockets, 89 mortar rounds, three rocket propelled grenade launchers and over 300 rocket propelled grenades from other weapons caches found in the city. Additionally, the Soldiers uncovered 119 hand grenades and bomb making materials to include plastic explosives, detonation cord, remote controlled detonation devices, a bomb building instruction book, machine guns, rifles, pistols and ammunition.

Random checkpoints are also being employed to interdict the movement of arms and insurgents in Baghdad, with great effect:

After setting up an impromptu control point in northeast Baghdad, Task Force Baghdad Soldiers stopped four suspicious vehicles around 11:55 p.m. Sept. 29. Upon searching the car, the Soldiers discovered terrorist propaganda, 10 Iraqi Police badges and six IP-issue Glock pistols. Soldiers captured 12 terror suspects in the four cars and detained them for further questioning.

About 10 minutes later, another vehicle was stopped at the same check point and the four occupants in the car had Iraqi government badges, three AK-47 assault rifles and one Glock pistol in their possession. Iraqi Police took the four suspects into custody for questioning.

On October 1, Task Force Baghdad captured fourteen suspects and uncovered large weapons caches. On October 2, fifteen suspected insurgents were arrested, including an entired IED cell of seven led by a physics instructor, “six road-side bomb emplacers and two suspected members of a car bombing cell.” On October 4, twenty suspects were detained and more ammunition dumps were discovered. Iraqi Security Forces took the lead in many of the raids.

The Coalition has the initiative along the Euphrates and is exploiting this with raids in Baghdad. Al Qaeda and the insurgency are prepping to disrupt the referendum on the constitution that will occur in less than two weeks.

As the charter continues to gain support among the Iraqi populace, even among Sunnis, al Qaeda extols Iraqis to reject it by boycotting the election; “By going to the noxious elections centres you would enable the crusaders … to decide your fate as they please Do not participate in legitimising the infidels’ attempts to slaughter you.”

al Qaeda is being pressed hard militarily in its former dominions in western Anbar, and is attempting to thwart the election with pleas, threats and violence. al Qaeda failed to prevent the election last spring, and could not even muster the strength to conduct more than a few attacks on a polling stations. The Iraqi people will show up to vote on the draft constitution, and al Qaeda, despite its threats and actual acts of brutality, will be powerless to stop them. The campaign along the Euphrates not only threatens al Qaeda’s main base of operations and its precious ratline from Syria to the Iraqi heartland, but it will make al Qaeda’s attempts to cower the Iraqi people all the more difficult.

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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21 Comments

  • Marlin says:

    I thought Wretchard had a very prescient observation in the Comments section to his latest post this morning.
    I believe that Zarqawi has lost the force generation race. In the beginning, when he was directly attacking government police and army recruitment depots, he was still in the running. But at some point he gave up because he was not interdicting the system sufficiently. It’s hard to shut down a system producing 18 new battalions per month. I think he realized he couldn’t throttle the system building against him and that’s when he switched to trying to start a civil war. If he couldn’t win the chess game he was going to upset the board. But I think he’s finding the table too heavy to lift.

  • ricksamerican says:

    “Do not participate in legitimising the infidels’ attempts to slaughter you. . .”
    The irony of this AQ campaigm slogan is mindboggling.

  • Colin says:

    Can we let out a sigh of relief yet that the great Ramadan Offensive has not materialized?

  • ike says:

    Colin,
    Is Ramadan over?

  • Recent operations involving Iraqi forces

    Iraqi security forces continue to perform roles in operations in Iraq. It may not be in leaps and bounds, but Iraqi forces are improving.

  • Matthew says:

    Good Heavens on the amounts of explosives the coalition keep turning up on a daily basis – we can be only so lucky that due to personnel losses that Al Quada cannot utilize all of these bombs (unless one “shoves” them in a truck or three).
    Not to say that terrorism will immeadiately cease, but I think October will be the last gasp of the Sunni based “insurgency” and hopefully December 15 will further reduce the influence of the religious-based Islamic Sunni and Shi’a parties.

  • Mark Buehner says:

    My best friend was in on one of the Baghdad raids. He said it looked like an Afghan weapons dump during the Soviet war. There were artillery rounds all wired up with det cord (IEDs ready to go). The bombmaker is standing in custody there while they inventory this stuff, i guess just looking stupid. So the guys in the patrol who were watching him start discussing what the Iraqi penalty was for getting caught so red-handed, what they would like to do to him themselves, etc. After a while of escalating punishment scenarios, the guy starts crying. They turn to him surprised and he say ‘You know, I speak English very well’.

  • vucommodore says:

    The Iraqi government got rid of their ridiculous voting new so now there’s going to be a real vote on the constitution. Iraq’s path is going to be set in this election and the December one. It could go either way. Let’s hope it goes in the right direction.

  • Justin Capone says:

    The right direction is the Sunnis voting in large numbers in each election regardless of if the Constitution passes or not.

  • ike says:

    Kuwait talks of importance in making peace with Israel for Arab countries.
    //www.iht.com/articles/2005/10/05/news/kuwait.php

  • jc says:

    “Do not participate in legitimising the infidels’ attempts to slaughter you.”
    BWAHAHA! Incredible. Surely the general Iraqi populace realizes that, if we wanted to, we could kill every living soul in Iraq and turn the entire country into one big glass parking lot!

  • hamidreza says:

    Its official now. Iran is helping Sadr’s Mahdi army to blow up British troops.
    //news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4312516.stm
    “The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the technology had come from Hezbollah in Lebanon via Iran and produced an “explosively shaped projectile”.
    “He said that dissidents from the Mehdi army, a militia controlled by the radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr, were suspected of carrying out the attacks. ”
    “The official also said that the trial of Saddam Hussein, due to start on 19 October, might be postponed until after the elections in December. ”

  • ike says:

    //www.debka.com/headline.php?hid=916
    Debka reporting that Iran has been caught funding and arming SUNNI insurgents in Iraq. Supposedly it is being done after U.S. incursions over Syrian border and Iran’s defense pact with Syria.

  • Marlin says:

    A few weeks ago a commenter asked about the mindset/veracity of Knight-Ridder reporters reporting from Iraq. I couldn’t quickly find the post where the question was asked. However, I think this article explains clearly where the average K-R reporter is coming from.
    The sights, sounds and threat of violence are a constant in Baghdad

  • Mose Stuart says:

    I have been reading this blog with great interest and I have a question: Given the seemingly endless stream of fighetrs coming into Iraq from Syria, is it not possible to mine the Iraq-Syria border so that only a certain number of crossing points would be available and more easily controlled? I am sure I have not considered all aspects of such action, but it seems logical to me.
    Thanks.

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    Ike,
    “Debka reporting that Iran has been caught funding and arming SUNNI insurgents in Iraq”
    Iran is going to want to know how to defeat US and British Armor. Paying insurgents to “test drive” the latest in IED technology is one way to find out.
    It is possible that it is all part of some Iranian master plan, but IMHO, it is part of Iran wanting to know how to defeat US Armor in the event it becomes necessary.
    Provoking a direct confrontation with the US would be about the stupidest thing Iran could do.

  • Colin says:

    Just to say that it’s not just Debka that’s reporting this. It is the top headline on British news programmes this evening.

  • Mark Buehner says:

    Hmm, ironic if Iranian bombs are blowing up Shiia mosques.
    Mose, a good point. I’ve advocated mining the desert crossings for years. They can be well marked minefields with mines that switch themselves off after a certain time period. I suspect the political crap storm this would cause prevents it, even though it is practically metaphysical certainty those mines would save more lives than they took if deployed properly.

  • hamidreza says:

    It is important to note that the Iranian leadership is split between the hardliners (IRGC) and the moderates (Rafsanjani, reformists). The Supreme Leader is fencesitting.
    The hardliners who are in the ascendancy have pushed for confrontation with the Americans inside Iraq, using IEDs and VBIEDs, and are engaged in this for a while now. They are also blowing up Iraqi Shiites, which is ironic. Their beef is with the constitutional process most of all.
    Jafari and Hakim are beholden to the moderate and pragmatic wing – while Sadr seems to have found new favor with the hardline wing.
    An Allawi coalition government will be bad for both wings, so they are doing everything possible to undermine the December elections.
    SD – I am not sure what the US can do to Iran, except for sending cruise missles to IRGC installations on the border. Any ideas? Also there is the nasty nuclear dimension.

  • TallDave says:

    Watch, as I predicted a long time ago, the Iraqi Shiites will quickly lose any minor affection they currently have for the mullahs in Iran as Iran is caught doing nasty things.
    Democracy is a terrible threat to the Iranian dictatorship; not even nukes can deter revolution. They cannot afford to let Iraqi democracy succeed.

  • ghoullio says:

    interesting would be if Iraq came to power under an Allwai alliance, and brought with it the underlying elements in Iran. as Iraq rises, Iran falls…
    and wouldnt you think this is big time international news? Shiite Iranians bombing Shiite Mosques in Iraq??

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