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.