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.
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.