In Babil province, another strike on a police station & Operation Iron Strike
A day after insurgents successfully overran a police station in Miqdadiyah, another attempt was made in the town of Madain, which sits at the tip of the “Triangle of Death”, a region of insurgent activity which lies south of Baghdad and is demarked by the towns of Yusufiyah, Latifiyah and Mahmudiyah. The assault was beaten back by a joint U.S. and Iraqi rapid reaction team. The insurgents took a staggering 83% attrition rate during the strike in Madain. The Associated Press provides the details:
Sixty gunmen, firing rocket-propelled grenades and automatic rifles, attacked the Madain police station before dawn, police Lt. Col. Falah al-Mohammadawi said. U.S. troops and a special Iraqi police unit responded, capturing 50 of the insurgents, including a Syrian, al-Mohammadawi said. Four policemen, including one commander, were killed and five were wounded, he said. None of the attackers was killed.
al Qaeda’s front organization in Iraq, the Mujahideen Shura Council, has claimed responsibility for the attack in Miqdadiyah. There are also accusations the Miqdadiyah assault was aided from inside the police force; ” The governor of Diyala province, which has a volatile ethnic and sectarian mix and has seen many al Qaeda attacks in recent months, had the police commander and other officers arrested. He suspected them of complicity in the dawn raid…”
The Madian assault, at first glance appears to be a similarly organized operation. While no group has yet to claim responsibility for the Madain attack, there are indications this may have been another al Qaeda operation. First, al Qaeda tends to conducted high-profile strikes within the same timeframe to magnify the propaganda effects. Both assaults struck at identical targets, consisted of a massed strike force and used similar tactics (coordinated attack; opening salvos with RPGs, mortars and small arms fire).
al Qaeda has attempted two large scale assaults such is this in the past; the attacks on Camp Gannon in Husaybah and on Abu Ghraib prison in the spring of 2005. Both of these attacks were fended off by U.S. forces with heavy casualties inflicted on the assault force. But the two latest attacks did not involve suicide car bombs, which is certainly an interesting development. With the successful attack in Miqdadniyah and the failure in Madain, al Qaeda overall success rate is 1 for 4 from a military standpoint, but the propaganda value of these strikes are incalculable. It should be noted that after the al Qaeda failures at Camp Gannon and Abu Ghraib, al Qaeda halted large scale assaults on armed compounds. While these operations may have produced good propaganda, it is likely the operations took a toll on resources, morale and manpower. It has taken almost one year for al Qaeda to reinitiate such operations.
Coalition and Iraqi forces initiated an offensive of its own in Babil province. A combined Iraqi and U.S. strike force comprised of elements 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Division, and 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division conducted Operation Iron Strike a cordon & search operation in the town of Samra, which also lies in the Triangle of Death. Eleven insurgents were detained and a weapons cache was uncovered. This was a night air assault operation, with U.S. and Iraqi troops being ferried in by Blackhawks.
Iron Strike follows a similar operation which was aimed at Sadr-Yusufiyah, where Coalition and Iraqi forces established a battle position to patrol the region. Coalition forces are increasingly using air assaults, which is an indication that there is little concern the insurgency possesses shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles. Air assaults also add the element of surprise and allow Coalition forces to bypass the threat of roadside bombs.
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