Steel Curtain Update: Slugging it out in Ubaydi, Running with the Sheep

al Qaeda has taken heavy casualties in the western town of Ubaydi. Since the assault force of Operation Steel Curtain moved from Husaybah and Karabilah to Ubaydi early Monday, eighty insurgents and terrorists have been killed in the town, with thirty killed since just last evening. Over 150 insurgents are believed to have been captured since Steel Curtain began.

Multinational Forces – West reports “the majority of the city has been cleared, but there are pockets of resistance and improvised bombs that still pose a considerable risk to both military personnel and civilians.” The bulk of the fighting occurred in the tight quarters of the housing complex in New Ubaydi. Five car bombs were destroyed inNew Ubaydi; one contained “approximately 20 large caliber artillery shells.”

Operation Steel Curtain has had a noticeable impact on the terrorist’s supply chain. Reports indicate 36 weapons caches, including “several that contained suicide vests and bomb making material” , along with 107 IEDs and multiple homes rigged as bombs have been discovered. These are weapons that will not be able to be used to disrupt the upcoming parliamentary election on December 15th.

Multinational Forces – West also states “Intelligence reports indicate that the strong resistance to the Iraqi and Coalition push into the city is due in large part to the fact that insurgents believe they are trapped and have nowhere else to go.” The high casualty counts in Ubaydi support this theory.

With Husaybah, Karabilah and Sa’dah hosting a strong Coalition contingent directly on the Syrian border, Coalition forces holding the bridges and roads eastward, and the borders essentially closed down at Tal Afar in the north and Rutbah in the south, the insurgents in the region may be finding it difficult to move around and reestablish a base of operations elsewhere. Jihadis attempting to flee the battlefield are resorting to humiliating tactics to evade capture; “Several detainees were captured trying to sneak out of the area by crawling among a flock of sheep.” Such is the state of the mighty warriors of Zarqawi.

A look at the map will show there are still areas to be addressed along the border. I will refrain from further speculation as the pace of current combat operations is fast and operational security is more important than prognostication at this juncture.

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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  • James says:

    Jihadis attempting to flee the battlefield are resorting to humiliating tactics to evade capture; “Several detainees were captured trying to sneak out of the area by crawling among a flock of sheep.”

  • ikez78 says:

    U.S. stepping up use of aerial drones for protection against snipers and for protecting convoys.

  • ikez78 says:

    Baathist insurgency leader caught.
    Does anyone know any more details on the big shot Saddam/Baathist aide that was said to be dead the other day?
    Also, any further word on possible intel gathered from the captured female suicide bomber who is said to know where Zarqawi may be?

  • ikez78 says:

    Nato buzzing Syrian borders with Iraq and Turkey as a warning.

  • hamidreza says:

    #2 James – heh heh
    You should read the report by soldiers from outside of Kandahar, Afghanistan on how the Taliban warriors wear eye shadow (and mascara?) – no kidding.

  • Patrick says:

    I’m tempted to say Bill is going to miss the fight if he doesn’t hurry,all left will be the Ramadi style scenario to report as opposed to the “like Grant took Richmond” scenario playing out before our eyes.

  • Jamison1 says:

    I wish you were correct, but you are not. There is still a lot more fighting to go. We are no where near the end.

  • Matthew says:

    I agree there is more work to be done, as Bill himself says; the good news is that, there is still a month to go to et up and provide operational security for the upcoming December 15th elections.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Thanks for wasting 15 minutes of my time with deleting all of the childish comments. That’s exactly what I wanted to spend my time on right about now.
    I try to allow for aserious discuss to take place, but some of you constantly take advantage of the comments threads with silliness or outrageously off topic comments.
    If you want adiscussion board to spout off on, you’re in the wrong place. If you want me to waste time deletingor editing comments, I’ll enable typekey registration or just shut them down.
    Thanks again for wasting my time.

  • Media Lies says:

    Today’s Iraq report

    CJ’s IED rollup #5 is up. Reading these will give you a good idea of the enormous amount of good work that’s being done both by our troops and by the Iraqis. For every IED that su…

  • Terry Gain says:

    As one of your first visitors and the person whose joke was deleted let me say I’m disappointed but I still have great respect for you. Humour can be a great weapon. Gosh golly-the expression I use before my grandchildren to express emotion- the Islamofascists are humourless.
    I have referenced your website in numerous other sites and I am a great fan. This is the first site I visit every day.
    Good luck in Iraq. Be safe. Bless you.

  • Chris says:

    I would be curious to know what your sources were for this post, specifically the part about evasion in a heard of sheep. Seems like I read this somewhere else today, but it required a clearance.

  • Ken says:

    What is the condition north of the Euphates River, where another road leads from Syria into Iraq, which also have intersections of roads leading to Mosul and toward Hadithah? Are these area secured and being monitored as an alternative weapon smuggling route?

  • hamidreza says:

    #12 Chris, there is an account of it at link #9. I also read that on one of the MSM.

  • cjr says:

    Border Securtiy forts are being built all along the Syrian border north of the Euphates. They should be finished and manned by border secuity forces by the end of the year.

  • Steve says:

    Bill, You are doing a great service to all Americans with your reporting. All we ever hear from the MSM is how many Americans were killed on a day to day basis without any other information at all. It is no wonder that such a high percentage of Americans are turning against this war. IF your writings could get out to a broad section of the american public through TV or newspapers, support for the war and the knowledge of what our military is doing would significantly increase the public’s perception of what is actually happening and increase the percentage of americans in favor of winning the war. Keep up the GREAT work, and God bless you.

  • Turner says:

    Boy! I can see why the terrorists are slugging it out. Having been chased into a loop of the river, they’re now trapped. Surrounded by water on this pennisula, they’ve been forced to stand and fight. Something they’re not real good at.

  • Jamison1 says:

    There are a number of MSM reports about it. You can Google it:

  • desert rat says:

    Jamison @ #7
    You are correct in your opinion that the fighting will continue for quite a while. You are, I think, wrong about one thing, though, US troops will not be doing the fighting.
    As evidenced by the Congress, yesterday, there is not much time for US involvement left. I, being at least “old”, can remember the last time “non binding” resolutions were passed by the Senate about US military involvement overseas. It did not end well for US, back in the day. The clock is on the wall, time is running out.
    We will be leaving Iraq, sooner than you’d like to think.
    As I said, been there, done that.

  • GJ says:

    desert rat:
    That was my biggest concern when I heard that news. Many in the press are spinning it. They say they want quarterly reports. Hell, how many times do they keep bringing up the military for hearings. What a smokescreen. Unfortunately the general public Only gets their news from the MSM and they’re not dissimilar from the days of Cronkite.

  • leaddog2 says:

    The next major Terrorist attack in America will defeat the Demon’s who are the Terrorist’s strongest supporters. It is an outrage that such an attack will be required to silence people like Dean, Moore, Kennedy, Boxer, Kerry, Durbin, Pelosi & Reid.
    That has NOTHING to do with this post and the awesome job our soldiers and Marines are doing without any DemocRat support of any substance. The DemocRat HATRED of the the military stinks badly.

  • desert rat says:

    But what if we have already won, what if aQ no longer has the capacity to strike here in a major way.
    I think that many of the “incidents” that have occurred in US over the past decade were aQ or Jihadist related. Going back to McVeigh and Nichols in OK City. Malvo and Mohammed were Jihadist pawns, at least. The El Al ticket counter attack in LA and any number of under reported assasinations of moderate or Christian Arabs in US are all inter connected.
    The Francofada is part of the overall conflict, but misreported IMO.
    Wait until the opponents of the War declare Victory for US. It will happen right after the Iraqi Election. Take the time to read the Authorization for Use of Force. A real case can be made that with the coming Election that we’ve won. The Mission IS complete, the course has been stayed. Time to leave.
    When the opponents add a completed Victory metric along with withdrawal, the Public will buy it.

  • PeterArgus says:

    I am not sure I take such a dim view as you about continued US troop involvement in Iraq, at least IRT the non-binding resolution. First, it seems to me it is to the administration’s advantage to have to provide quarterly reports to congress. In this way they have an official channel to report what is really happening there. It is all too clear the more informal method of providing the information directly to the public has been largely ignored by the media. Coupled with a more aggressive defense of the war by leading administration figures maybe a more balanced perspective will get out there. Second, this resolution expressly does not call for a timetable. Without that potential limitation of executive powers I don’t see the harm. Third, Bush isn’t LBJ (or Nixon for that matter) both of whom had placed high priority on domestic matters and/or getting re-elected. Fourth, polls may show diminished support for the war but how much conviction is there in the public? I would measure that conviction based on the strength of the antiwar movement – which remains essentially as weak as it was during the run up to the war. I don’t see that increasing anytime soon unless there is a draft. Short of impeachment I think we can expect the administration to stay to their strategy.

  • Dave From Chicago says:

    Well I hope Bush stays the course like he promised. Everytime I see Bush he is always smiling or laughing so he can’t be too worried about not finishing Iraq. I actually was watching CSPAN the other day before the vote on this and I was shocked to hear a sensible democrat. Lieberman gave a nice speech about putting politics aside and finishing the job right. I think guys like lieberman and McCain need to step up and take a bigger role in Iraq. The radicals of both sides (especially the dems) are just focused on politics. Harry Reid would rather screw Bush than worry about how pulling out too quick with hurt our future as a country. I don’t understand why everyone if so negative about Iraq. Things seem to slowly be getting better everyday yet Bush’s poll numbers are in the gutter. Boy it would be nice if the MSM did their job and covered the actual war. They are too busy playing gotcha with Bush.

  • ikez78 says:

    Senator Rockefeller admits he “tipped off” Syria about our war plans before we invaded Iraq.
    In my opinion, this takes the cake over all of their other treasonous comments, remarks and underminings. We need a senate investigation on this.
    The ramifications of what Rockefeller did are uncalculable, given Syria’s closeness with Iraq, did the WMD’s go there?

  • Justin Capone says:

    desert rat, your right that the resolution is a sign that the US is going to be pulling out soon. By early spring we will probably have a good 30-40% out of Iraq. By late next summer it will probably be 60-70%.
    When the US public turns against a war they turn against it, and unless the politicians are willing to go against the grain, which Congress probably won’t then we have a big problem.

  • PeterArgus says:

    I think your withdrawal projections are on the high side – I could see 30% by the end of 2006 but spring is not that far off – and would require a hasty retreat indeed. I would think that just the logistics (planning would have to start right now) would dictate that would be a difficult goal to meet. But let’s assume your withdrawal amounts are correct Do you think given current progress the Iraqis will be able to take up the slack and provide for their own security? I.e., realistically can we expect that the insurgency is pacified enough that our troops can start to leave by spring?

  • Oded says:

    Partisan politics and posturing. Getting a vote, defeating and hopefully humiliating Bush are the primary goals. Republicans just as bad, distancing themselves from Bush as they assume the medias effect on the populace is irreversable. However the media will soon have no choice but to notice the gradual progress in Iraq and I bet approval ratings will increase in 2006.
    As for withdrawing from Iraq, I expect we will reduce our forces by about 30% in 06 given adequate buildup of the Iraqi Army and a largely defeated insurgency. We will however maintain a significant force there for some years to come as we will continue to advise and provide rapid reaction forces and support.
    We are not fullly leaving Iraq for many years to come, since the goal of going there IMO was to have a beachhead in the ME, sorround Iran and threaten Syria. The strategic gain of remaining wont be lost even on dimwitted libs. When losses become negligable, Iraq will be largely forgotten and Americas attention will be back on the latest Hollywood excess or spectacular murder. This will surely occur as our footprint gets smaller and only Iraqis are dying

  • Oded says:

    Oh and sorry for the silly posts Bill, I am sometimes 46 going on 10. It wont happen again.

  • Robert M says:

    Anybody counting on a terror attack to shut up any politician is kidding themselves. The electorate will hang Republicans and Democrats alike if that happens.

  • blert says:

    We are in the last campaign season wherein the US dominates the attack. By May 2006 American forces will be in reserve.
    Al Anbar will have been more or less crushed by January 1, 2006. The tempo is that fast. The USMC is already in the mopping up stage. Knocking off trapped insurgent companies with brigades: that’s not a battle — it’s a slaughter.
    If you’d look in the rear view mirror you’d notice that the insurgency has been rendered catatonic.
    By February our combat formations will be back into pure policing and training.
    Surging Iraq Army strength, plunging insurgent strength: it’s a rout.

  • Justin Capone says:

    However the media will soon have no choice but to notice the gradual progress in Iraq and I bet approval ratings will increase in 2006.
    The real problem is the 70-100 KIA per month. We look set for another 100 KIA this month just like last month.
    Some of that comes from going on the offensive, but if you look deeper into the numbers most of that comes from simply having our soldiers drive around Iraq in their vehicles and then get hit by IEDs.

  • PeterArgus says:

    Well it seems that the Al Anbar campaigns are in the MSM news bigtime today. The MSM is touting the loss of 5 Marines (“the greatest loss since the campaign began”)in a booby-trapped house. This after largely ignoring the gains that have been made in this region. In all fairness, they seem to moderating their earlier reports somewhat by citing heavy terrorist losses but still there is no sense of the big picture.

  • cjr says:

    “but if you look deeper into the numbers most of that comes from simply having our soldiers drive around Iraq in their vehicles and then get hit by IEDs.”
    In August, 15 ISF battalions owned an area of responsibility. In November, 36 ISF battalions did. By January, 74 battalions will. As more ISF battalions take over, fewer US soliers will be driving around(aka patroling). Once the number of ISF battalions gets to about 110-120, US will be out of the patroling business and will mostly be confined to a few large bases. This is what will reduces US casualities from IEDs.

  • desert rat says:

    Then why keep them in the country? If US troops are not needed, because our strategy has finally succeeded, we will have won and SHOULD begin withdrawal.
    What US force stays behind and where they should be staying will be debated, but Bush and his team are afraid to promote the fact, as blert says, that it’s a rout.

  • Justin Capone says:

    I think it will happen, but it will be alot longer then that.

  • Delta Dave says:

    I doubt that the US Military can just “walk away” once the magic 350K Iraqi police/military/etc. are on the ground patrolling. No matter how proficient they become, they are just equipped with small arms.
    They depend on the US for the heavy stuff, for logistics, for battlefield prep, etc..
    Any neighboring country military would / could just steam roll the infant IA until it actually gets to be a full fledge fighting force with heavy weapons and supporting air force. That is still many years off ….
    But if they ever do become mech and armor enabled again, and have actually inculcated the American military culture, they will be one hellva force to be reckoned with in the Middle East

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  • GJ says:

    I was astonished on how many in the media and politicians seemed to think this is no big deal. Rocky says “I didn’t give out any secrets”. I’ve had a hard time swallowing all the WMD denials. I’m still convinced they went to Syria. And now even more so. When you have a US Senator going there and talking about invasion it most certainly carries more weight than mere speeches. It was definitely a warning to the region and they certainly made plans accordingly. Hell, even the Iraqi military leaders were expecting to use WMD’s. Saddam isn’t stupid. That’s how he’s survived So Long. I wouldn’t be surprised if he authorized sending to Syria and thus making us look bad, especially when considering the French involvement, along with Russia, sending military equipment up until the start of the war.

  • blert says:

    It’s a fact that Saddam was frantically destroying contraband in the weeks immediately prior to OIF.
    That was widely reported; only to fall into the memory hole.


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