Jafari picked to be new PM; Iraqi Army continues to take the lead & conducts night air assault; Rutbah becomes a ” vital logistical node for the insurgency”
As the Iraqi political process moves forward at a frustratingly fitful pace, the fight against al Qaeda and the insurgency continues. The Shiite dominated United Iraqi Alliance has chosen Dawa Party’s Ibrahim Jafari, the current Prime Minister, over Abdul Mahdi of SCIRI in a narrowly decided vote of 64-63. The full Assembly must still confirm Jafari before assuming office. Jafari has been criticized as being a soft and ineffective leader against the insurgency, however the most significant gains have been made under his leadership. Iraqi police and Army units have developed and are assuming a greater role in security operation while western Anbar has fallen under the government’s control.
Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition units continue to take the fight to the insurgency in northern and western Iraq. The Iraqi Army lead a series of raids in the north-central Sunni cities of Baqubah Samarra and Balad and netted twelve insurgent suspects and killed two.
The Iraqi Army also conducted its first nighttime air assault against a suspected terrorist training camp in the village of Bit Shaitin, near Salman Pak, Saddam’s former terrorist training camp. Twenty-six suspects were arrested, and they were believed to be planning “attacks against Ashura Pilgrims traveling toward Karbala.” Over 100 Iraqi troops participated in the assault, and “several objectives were assaulted simultaneously.” Air assault operations are complex by day, and the night mission demonstrates a significant level of proficiency by Iraqi Army units.
Iraqi Army soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 4th Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division launched another independently lead operation, Trust in God, in the town of Subiyhat, near Fallujah. Three companies of Iraqi troops were supported by two companies of Marines from 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team – 8. The Marines provided perimeter security while the Iraqi Army entered the town. Four suspected insurgents were detained.
Lieutenant Rob Dolan, the Public Affairs Officer for Regimental Combat Team – 2, was on the scene in Rutbah and provided The Long War Journal an exclusive update on Operation Western Shield. Rutbah is believed to be one of the locations the insurgency and al Qaeda fled to after basing in the Western Euphrates River Valley were denied during operations over 2005.
Located approximately 75 miles from borders with Jordan and Syria, without another major city for hundreds of miles, the remoteness has made Ar Rutbah a key crossroad for smuggling cars, gasoline, weapons and drugs. Insurgents and foreign fighters have recognized the strategic location of Ar Rutbah… The largest and most deadly weapon insurgents possess besides IEDs is cash. Money from various smuggling activities that are conducted in and around Ar Rutbah goes directly to funding the insurgency making Ar Rutbah a vital logistical node for the insurgency in the western Al Anbar province.
The three Traffic Control Checkpoints [TCPs] into Rutbah are manned by Iraqi Army soldiers from Headquarters Company of the 2nd Brigade, 7th Division and Marines of Alpha Company, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion.
Iraqi Army and Coalition forces continue to expand their control to the far outreaches in Anbar province, making the insurgency and al Qaeda’s line of communications to outside support all the more difficult.
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