Coalition forces continue to strike in the Qaim region on the border with Syria. While prior operations in and around Qaim mainly consisted of airstrikes with ground raids being secondary, the recent strikes along the border appear to be primarily ground raids, with air support being used to destroy weapons dumps and safe houses after the mission ends. Two missions in the region over the past two days indicate this may become more common out west. In a raid on Al Abu Hardan, five terrorists are captured and a major weapons cache is uncovered:
Coalition forces raided a suspected al Qaeda in Iraq terrorist safe house near the town of al bu Hardan, northwest of Al Qaim on Oct. 21. During the raid, five terrorists were detained and a large cache consisting of weapons, ammunition, mortars and bomb making materials was confiscated in the safe house. Intelligence sources and tips from local citizens led Coalition Forces to the location. Coalition air assets, using precision guided munitions, destroyed the safe house and weapons cache after Coalition Forces departed the location.
In a raid in the town of Husaybah, twenty terrorists are killed and one is captured, and five safe houses and more weapons caches are discovered:
Coalition forces raided two neighborhoods in Husaybah and discovered two large weapons caches containing small arms, ammunition, rocket-propelled grenades, mortar rounds, explosives and bomb-making materials that included radios and detonators, the statement said.
The soldiers destroyed a car bomb found near one of the buildings, and Air Force planes then used precision-guided munitions to destroy the “safe houses,” the military said.
Both raids are credited to an increase in local intelligence. The possible change in operations can be chalked up to the success of Operation Iron Fist. The Marine outpost on the border in Husaybah has been bolstered by the establishment of bases in Sa’dah. There are now two Marine battalions in the region where once there was one, giving the Marines greater operational flexibility to execute ground raids. These raids will further improve the Coalition’s intelligence in the region as the safe houses and ammunition dumps are picked over for information.
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