In early August, Iraqi Defense Minister Saadoun Dulaimi laid out the Coalition’s plan to wrest control of the Euphrates River Valley from the grip of the insurgency, and indicated the operation had the political backing to proceed; “Our forces will start from the Syrian border till we reach Ramadi, then to Fallouja We have taken precise measures on the ground and acquired the president’s approval to start the operation.” Since Defense Minister Dulaimi issued his proclamation, Coalition forces have executed Iron Fist in Sa’dah and River Gate in Haditha, and now Steel Curtain directed at Husaybah and Karabilah.
“Husaybah has been cleared and secured”, and it now appears Karabilah has been as well, or if not will be shortly. The Army Times’ Gordon Trowbridge is embedded with the Marines in Western Iraq, and indicates the resistance in Karabilah was light to non-existent. It is believe the bulk of the insurgents either escaped or went to ground. CENTCOM reports over 67 IEDs and mines, and 30 weapons caches have been discovered since Steel Curtain began. Neneteen IEDs, three homes rigged as bombs and one car bomb have been found in Karabilah alone.
A recent CENTCOM press release issued Captain Jeffrey Pool clearly states “Operation Steel Curtain continues.” This can be interpreted as operations are continuing in Karabilah. However, the Coalition began Operation Steel Curtain in Husaybah and did not stop there.
There are more towns along the Euphrates that are likely to be the focus of Steel Curtain; Ubaydi and Ushsh have been the sites of insurgent activity and Coalition air strikes and raids in the recent past.
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