The Iraqi Army conducts an independent another independent operation in Zarqawi’s former “Islamic Republic of Qaim”; AQIZ conducts multiple suicide operations
Iraqi Army soldiers patrol the streets of Ubaydi, Iraq, March 23, 2006, in western Al Anbar Province, while Army Staff Sgt. Ken E. Miller, Military Transition Team training officer observes the unit’s movements. Click to enlarge. Photo by: Cpl. Antonio Rosas.
As the political and military ramifications from the strike on Sadr’s Mahdi Army compound in Baghdad are sorted out, Iraqi, Coalition and insurgent forces have been active in the hinterlands.
The 2nd Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 7th Division of the Iraqi Army has conducted another independent counterinsurgency operation in the town of Ubaydi in the Qaim region. Ubaydi was the scene of violent fighting during Operation Steel Curtain. Over seventy al Qaeda were killed in a fierce battle in the New Ubaydi district. Iraqi troops also conducted their first logistical resupply mission in the Qaim region. While I was in the Qaim region, the Iraqi Army units were solely reliant on U.S. Marines for logistical resupply. Seven month ago al Qaeda declared Qaim an “Islamic Republic,” and today the Iraqi Army is beginning to take the lead in security operations and is beginning to sustain their own operations.
The independent Iraqi Army operation in Ubaydi was the fourth such operation in western Anbar in the past three months. Closer to Baghdad, the 1st Brigade of the 1st Iraqi Army Division is moving to Ramadi. The 1/1 is one of the Iraqi Army’s most seasoned units (the 1st Battalion of the 1/1 fought in Fallujah, Mosul, Tal Afar and other hot spots) and boost the Iraqi Army presence in Ramadi to near division-strength. Near Fallujah, Marines are patrolling the farmlands and conducting counterinsurgency operations.
al Qaeda has not remained silent. A suicide bomber murdered forty and wounded thirty Iraqis waiting outside a recruiting center near Tal Afar. The attack is reminiscent of the bombing of the Ramadi police recruiting center, which ultimately backfired on al Qaeda and failed to deter recruiting in the largely Sunni city. The tribes in Anbar turned on al Qaeda and created the Anbar Revenge Brigades to hunt down the terrorists.
al Qaeda also attacked another police station, but failed. A suicide bomber was killed by Iraqi police as he attempted to drive an explosive-packed bus into a police station in Haswa. “Subsequent examination of the bus revealed that the driver’s hands had been chained to the wheel,” according to the Middle East Times, and “Shortly after the blast, three mortar rounds fell on the station, but no one was hurt.” Note there was no infantry assault. al Qaeda’s front organization, the Mujahideen Shura Council, has claimed responsibility for the suicide attack, and claims it was a highly successful operation.
This is the third al Qaeda attack on a police station in the past week, with the attack in Miqdadniyah being the only successful operation. al Qaeda continues to target the Iraqi Security Forces, as the establishment of a competent and popular security organization is Zarqawi’s greatest fear.
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