The Battle of Yusifayah

Yusifiyah is yet again the focus of Coalition raids. Unnamed Coalition forces, most likely Task Force 145, slugged it out with al Qaeda in the city on Sunday. Multinational Forces – Iraq reported the strike forces killed “more than 25 terrorists, detained four, destroyed three safe houses and a vehicle loaded with weapons and ammunition.” Task Force 145 also took some casualties, as the defending al Qaeda forces were able to shoot down a helicopter, killing two Americans in the process. While the military hasn’t identified the type of helicopter shot down, it is likely based on the casualties that this was a Special Operations “Little Bird” which is used for armed reconnaissance and has a crew of two.

Evan Kohlmann noted that Zarqawi’s most recent videotape contained footage of terrorists armed with MANDPADS (man-portable surface-to-air missiles). As there have been relatively few shoot downs of helicopters and airplanes compared to Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation, I speculated last month al Qaeda’s access to the weapons is limited, and the anti-aircraft missiles have been distributed to protect senior al Qaeda command elements. Zarqawi was believed to have been in Yusifiyah and witnessed a Task Force 145 raid in early April, and one of his guards was killed while preparing to fire a surface to air missile.

There is also the possibility the Army helicopter was shot down by an RPG (rocket propelled grenade) aimed at the tail fin, however this is a more difficult shot as it requires the helicopter to be in a hover and the shooter is exposes to fire. Al-Qaeda first used this technique on October 3, 1993 against U.S. helicopters in the imfamous “Black Hawk Down” incident in Mogadishu, Somalia. Earlier this month, a British Lynx helicopter was shot down in Basra using the same technique.

An Apache helicopter was shot down in Yusifayah on April 1 and numerous raids have been conducted on al Qaeda hideouts and safe houses in the city.

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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  • The Battle of Yusifayah

    Courtesy of the Counterterrorism Blog:
    By Bill Roggio
    Yusifiyah is yet again the focus of Coalition raids. Unnamed Coalition forces, most likely Task Force 145, slugged it out with al-Qaeda in the city on Sunday. Multinational Forces – Iraq reported…

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