“Operation Steel Curtain Continues”

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.

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

  • Jamison1 says:

    McCain in his speech last week made how these may very well not be clear and hold operations. Too few forces left in the cities. Anything on that?

  • Boonsberry says:

    Decapitation strikes against AQ may have left some weapons caches unattended and vulnerable to discovery and seizure by the coalition. Perhaps similar strikes against safe houses within Syria are in order.
    AQ threatened to shake the earth if the coalition did not cease operations in western Iraq. Perhaps the bombings in Amman, where one out of four bombs failed to detonate, or other suicide bombings around the world that may have gone dud, are the fulfillment of that threat. AQ is being attrited and operations are suffering as a result.

  • ikez78 says:

    I have a question to anyone who can answer.
    What effect if any, will the cold weather or colder weather have on the insurgency in Iraq as it gets closer to winter season there (or so I am assuming)?

  • ikez78 says:

    RNC ad to possibly air devastating new commercial of quotes from Clinton and prominent Dems about dangers of Saddam and their assurance of his WMD program. I really hope he does this. It’s about time.
    //www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2005/11/13/131646.shtml

  • Kartik says:

    If the bulk of insurgents escaped, how can this be considered a success?

  • Kartik says:

    Ikez78 wrote :
    ‘RNC ad to possibly air devastating new commercial of quotes from Clinton and prominent Dems about dangers of Saddam and their assurance of his WMD program. I really hope he does this. It’s about time.
    //www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2005/11/13/131646.shtml
    It took them 2 years to figure out to do this? And even then, they may or may not do it. They could have finished the war quicker and saved lives if the RNC pinned the Dems down like this sooner (assuming they even do it now, my bet is they are too afraid to do it).

  • ikez78 says:

    Maybe all of Hollywood isn’t worthless…
    “Actor BRUCE WILLIS has offered $1 million (GBP555,555) to anyone who turns in al-Qaeda terror leaders.
    The patriotic DIE HARD star will pay out for information on the whereabouts of OSAMA BIN LADEN, AYMEN AL-ZAWAHIRI or ABU MUSAB AL-ZARQAWI, the alleged brains behind the 9/11 atrocity.
    Willis announced his reward on US TV show RITA COSBY: LIVE AND DIRECT, where he also slammed biased media coverage of the Iraq war.
    He said, “I am baffled to understand why the things that I saw happening in Iraq, really good things happening in Iraq, are not being reported on.”
    //www.contactmusic.com/new/xmlfeed.nsf/mndwebpages/willis%20offers%20$1%20million%20to%20fight%20terrorism

  • Nicola says:

    Seen the latest from Ms. Badkhen? “Line of Control Shift Like Sands in the Desert”
    I cannot believe she even attempts to masquerade as unbiased in her reporting. She has consistently painted our troops in derogatory tones at every opportunity throughout her reports, sometimes subtly and sometimes blatant. She quotes their dialogue directly (and often out of context) when it fulfills her goal of showing them to be culturally insensitive or hints disorganization, then waxes sympathetic when speaking about how they miss family or the discomforts of a mission. She clearly sets these men up when speaking to them and her most consistent portrayal of the troops could be broken down to something akin to oafs with guns. In her online journal she even complains about disorganization between Marines and the Army and the inconvenience of having to book her own flights when schedules are classified: (she ought to be REAL happy those schedules aren’t easy to access if you ask me)
    “It doesn’t help that the Marines and the Army aren’t especially good at communicating with each other. So I’m forced to play military travel agent, which is tricky because I have no access to flight schedules, which are classified — or to flight routes, which are not, but which require I speak both fluent Marine and at least conversational Army. So far, I can only speak Civilian. But I’m getting there.”

  • Delta Dave says:

    The Iraqi have told the AP that the troubles they are having along their 620km border with Syria represent “620” problems. Further the Iraqi are getting steamed and the result my be “spillover”.

    I wonder if this is stage setting….??

    //www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/world/wire/sns-ap-iraq-syria,0,1475622.story?coll=sns-ap-world-headlines

  • hamidreza says:

    Anna Badken has reported a glaring untruth in this article. She starts by saying that Karabila was taken last month and now has to be retaken again. Her knowledge is deficient. The Sadah operation moved westward to Karabila and then stopped at the dried creek right at the eastern edge of Karabila town. Karabila was NEVER taken last month.
    She also totally discounts the tens of battalions of Iraqi army that are now holding territory, after it has been cleared in an operation.
    This reporting is rubbish, and is based on a false premise.
    Please register your displeasure with her directly at [email protected]

  • TallDave says:

    They seem to be running a bit short of cities to flee to.
    Condi talked to Sunni leaders today. They sound invested in the political process. They’re still asking for a stop to the military actions in Sunni areas, but more and more they sound like they’re just making noises to keep the insurgents off their backs until we finish them off.
    Yeah, I saw that Bruce Willis thing too. What a guy. Now I feel obligated to see every one of his future movies in the theater when it comes out. Even if they re-release Hudson Hawk

  • hamidreza says:

    ikez78 – the cold weather diminishes the will to fight on the part of the Baathists and criminals. Their motivation is opportunism generally and they firmly believe that only the US is standing between them and restoration of Sunni rule on the totality of Iraq. They are quite deluded.
    On the other hand the cold weather makes little dent in the mindset of the Islamist deadenders – especially the al-Qaeda type.
    Historically, the 4 winter months show a decline of insurgent attacks and casualties. Hopefully the anticipated dip will not be followed by a rise in March – April. Already the November figures look promising.

  • hamidreza says:

    What Condi has to do (probably with the acknowledgement of Sistani) is to agree with Sunni parties on the population of the Sunnis in Anbar and agree to give them that many extra ballots to compensate for places like Hit where voting will be difficult. This so that the Sunnis can get their proportionate number of seats.
    Of course the free ballots should be given to the sympathetic parties.
    Now this may sound wrong, but the Sunnis are entitled to a certain number of seats and al-Qaeda can only stop the Sunnis from voting and not the Shiites or Kurds, therefore, some consideration should be made. Furthermore, does democracy have a right to perpetuate itself? I think the answer is an emphatic positive.

  • Mac says:

    Sorry Hamidreza, but I think that starts and states a horrible failure at the attempt to implement transparency and the rule of law. An exception here, an exception there, and we’re right back to rule of man and authoritarian rule. Isn’t the whole purpose to get away from that type of governance?

  • Nicola says:

    I’m not completely clear about the situation in Karabilah. I know Sa’dah was cleared for sure, and that manned bases were set up outside/between Sa’dah and Karabilah, maintaining some U.S. presence. I’m not clear if the Iraqi Army were actually installed in town or in those positions just outside. I’d like to get all this clarified, as to how far troops progressed in Karabilah (not sure where the creek bed info came from – What was the source on that? I must have missed it) If that is the case, then it makes sense why the trouble with IED’s and booby-traps. But recent reports speak as if the U.S. simply cleared towns and then left, when I have heard first hand from Marines there that is not the case.

  • Justin Capone says:

    Operation Steel Curtain moves to Ubeydi
    UBEYDI, Iraq (CNN) — Facing “significant resistance,” U.S. and Iraqi forces on Monday entered the western town of Ubeydi on the tenth day of Operation Steel Curtain, an offensive designed to push insurgents from along the Iraq-Syria border.
    “Insurgent fighters have been battling with Iraqi and Coalition forces since the operation began at dawn,” a U.S. military statement said.
    Col. Stephen Davis, commander of Regimental Combat Team 2, said at least 45 insurgents have been killed in the fighting with another 25 captured
    //www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/11/14/iraq.main/index.html?section=cnn_latest

  • hamidreza says:

    Nicola – pls. view one or two of Bill’s slides posted about 11/8, and also his report on the Sadah operation circa 10/10. There is a dried creek bed separating Karabila on the west and Sadah on the east. All indications are that on the same day Sadah was captured, the Marines advanced and the STOPPED at this line, which is OUTSIDE of Karabila. This may have happened after receiving resistance from Karabila, and after a few forays.
    There are no indications that the forces had cleared any part of Karabila and were holding it.
    Badkhen is writing rubbish when she says that Karabila was swept, and then let go, and then the AIF moved back into Karabila. This is factually incorrect – and the rest of her article follows from this. I think SF Chronicle should print a correction to this falsity.
    Badkhen was embedded with the Sadah troops. But her term was up and left just the day before Sadah was taken. She has no direct knowledge of the Sadah operation itself. Its time for her to return back to sunny California, and report on missing cats and dogs, IMO.

  • hamidreza says:

    Mac – your idealism is inspirational. But let me ask you a theoretical question: Does liberal democracy have the right to perpetuate itself? We know that the other side has no qualms against winning by guns and bombs.
    But lets say if in a democracy, a majority decides to terminate the democracy and institute subjugation of the minority, should that be tolerated?
    If the answer is no, then it has some bearing on this discussion. Your criticism is well placed in regards to transparancy and rule of law. On the other hand if a town such as Hit cannot even set up polling stations (due to the Islamists), then other means have to be found. One vote denied is one jab at democracy. There are many examples where minorities are entitled to certain number of seats, with or without a vote.
    Of course this would be a temporary condition until security can be restored.

  • Nicola says:

    Thank you for the info Hamidreza. I definitely will be writing the SF Chronicle. It’s interesting to note that a whole website is even devoted to the cause of watching the Chronicle’s claims: ChronWatch

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  • Mac says:

    hamidreza – The Sunnis shouldn’t get “extra votes” or anything like it. However, representative districts should be drawn according to population. That is, if there are 25 million people and 250 seats in the Congress, then there should be approximately 1 representative for every 100,000 people. Given that the districts are drawn geographically, you should see a Congress that basically reflects the three differing sects. That voter turnout in a Sunni area is much lower is basically irrelevant. A Sunni will most likely be elected, but with a lower number of votes. But he’ll still represent his district in the Congress. Extra ballots shouldn’t be necessary in the least. Just fairly drawn districts. In fact, the US could use a lesson or two given the abuse that politicians on both sides have given to gerrymandering districts.

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