Fighting the Sunni Insurgency

Recent Iraqi and Coalition combat operations in Kirkuk, Baquba, Yusifiyah and Ramadi

Iraqi army soldiers and 82nd Airborne Division Paratroopers discuss their upcoming mission, Operation Portland, Oct. 28, 2006, at an Iraqi army base near Tikrit. U.S. Army photo by SSgt. Michael J. Carden. Click image to view.

Over the past week, U.S. and Iraqi forces fought Sunni insurgents in lopsided battles in the Iraqi cities of Kirkuk, Baquba, Yusifiyah and Ramadi. In each engagement, Sunni insurgents took massive casualties with no U.S. or Iraq forces killed.

In Kirkuk, the 3rd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 5th Division of Iraqi Army, in conjunction with the 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division conducted a brigade sized operation in and around the northern city of Kirkuk. The operation, originally announced on November 16th, was a major success. The Iraqi Army and U.S. forces killed nearly 50 insurgents and captured an additional 20 in a raid on a “large cache complex.” “The caches included over 400,000 rounds of small-arms ammunition, 15,000 rounds of heavy machine gun ammunition, five mortar bipods, three heavy machine guns, three anti-tank weapons, two recoilless rifles and numerous mortar rounds, grenades, flares and artillery rounds,” according to Multinational Forces Iraq. The soldiers also found materials to make roadside bombs as well as “propaganda materials and a large amount of U.S. dollars.” Seven al Qaeda were detained in a seperate raid in Kirkuk.

In Baquba, Iraqi and U.S. Army forces engaged Sunni insurgents. Eighteen were killed and 19 wounded, although it is not clear if these were insurgents or if civilians are included. Multinational Forces Iraq has not released information on the contact. Iraqi or U.S. soldiers were killed in the fighting. On Saturday, Coalition forces killed nine insurgents and captured two during a raid in Yusifiyah.

In Ramadi, the flashpoint of the the Sunni insurgency in Anbar province, and arguably the most dangerous city in Iraq outside of Baghdad, Iraqi and U.S. forces conducted two large raids over the past week. On November 13 and 14, U.S. forces killed 11 insurgents in 3 separate incidents. The insurgents were emplacing roadside bombs and were engaged with tank and small arms fire. An American soldier that was in the engagement confirms the report, and notes three soldiers were wounded, one seriously, in an IED strike on a Bradley fighting vehicle. He also notes the Los Angeles Times report of civilian casualties is boilerplate insurgent propaganda.

On Saturday, Coalition forces killed 8 insurgents and detained 2 during a morning raid in Ramadi. Michael Fumento, who recently returned from Ramadi, sums up the lopsided losses that occur during the fighting against al Qaeda and the Sunni insurgents when describing the successes of the sniper teams in the city:

During [the sniper team’s] deployment, [team leader SSgt. Ken] Cooke’s handful of snipers (the exact number is under wraps) with those 120 kills have accounted for about a fifth of the total known kills of the 1/506th. Meanwhile enemy snipers, though generally the most skilled of the enemy fighters and armed primarily with good 7.62 millimeter Soviet Dragunov sniper rifles, have killed 1 member of the battalion. The battalion plus its support units have lost a total of 8 men while killing about 600 – a stunning ratio of 75:1. Think about that the next time you hear of the prowess of the enemy.

Mr. Fumeto’s report from Ramadi on the expansion of Combat Outposts and the cornering of the insurgency into the northern regions of the city is a must read. Mr. Fumento also notes the city’s hospital was wrested from insurgent control over the summer. The Iraqi police just delivered medical supplies to the hospital. While Ramadi is still a contested city, the Iraqi Army and Coalition are making progress. The insurgent’s deadliest tactics continue to be hidden bombs and snipers, designed to slowly bleed the U.S. military and sap the will of the American public.

While Baghdad and the surrounding areas remain real problems, particularly with the steady output of bodies from sectarian violence and difficulties with the Iraqi police, the U.S. and Iraqi armies slowly whittle away at the power of al Qaeda and the Sunni insurgency.

It is crucial that the sectarian violence be brought under control to allow the reconciliation process to proceed. The Sunni insurgents not beholden to al Qaeda are searching for an out to the fighting, but as long as the Shiite death squads continue their work, they insurgents will not lay down their arms. Al-Qaeda has a vested interest in preventing reconciliation, and continues to stoke the sectarian murders by well planned suicide attacks, such as today’s suicide attack in Hillah. A man posing as a contractor rounded up day laborers onto a bus and then detonated his bomb, murdering 21 and wounding 47. The suicide bomber was identified as a Syrian by an Iraqi and 2 Egyptians who were rounded up by police.

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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  • Cruiser says:

    Great report Bill. All of this went on completely under the MSM radar.

  • Michael says:

    Excellent coverage Bill!
    “The operation, originally announced on November 16th, was a major success. The Iraqi Army and U.S. forces killed nearly 50 insurgents and captured an additional 20 in a raid on a “large cache complex.” “The caches included over 400,000 rounds of small-arms ammunition, 15,000 rounds of heavy machine gun ammunition, five mortar bipods, three heavy machine guns, three anti-tank weapons, two recoilless rifles and numerous mortar rounds, grenades, flares and artillery rounds,” according to Multinational Forces Iraq.”
    Cruiser is spot on. MSM completely misses this information and it happens daily, weekly, and monthly that our soldiers along with ISF constantly and consistently destroy terrorist strongholds. They flee and run away from the American and Iraqi forces.
    This is how we win a war over time. The Amreican people need this information.
    Even Fox News lets this go unreported in the way you have just put it out here for all to see in clear, simple format. Even Fox News should be admonished for their lack of accurate reporting daily on the news of the Coalition Forces ability to subdue and defeat the enemy.
    They have become this past year just as lazy as all the other BS’s(broadcast stations) in their efforts to get the truth out. Which should be their sole responsibility instead of ideological antennas.
    I think I’ll write Fox a brief note to look at your site to examine the skills of how a reporter can shine light on a subject clearly that is so lost in today’s MSM’s 30 second rotations.
    Great work!

  • Michael says:

    pffft… haha, helps if Amreicans like myself can spell American first before I write Fox!

  • Marlin says:

    I saw this entry over at ‘In From The Cold’. Has anyone else heard anything about this battle?
    I’m getting word of a major battle last week in Iraq last week, between terrorists and elements of the 82nd Airborne, east of Baghdad. One U.S. officer described the engagement as “one of the five biggest battles” between U.S. troops and insurgents in recent years. Other reports indicate as many as 100 terrorists were killed in the fighting, which lasted for several days. American casualties were described as “light.” The engagement reportedly began when the 82nd discovered–an attacked–an apparent terrorist training camp.
    So far, no confirmation of this operation from the “western press” in Iraq, nor the Multi-National Forces in Iraq (MNF-I) public affairs office.
    Big Battle Near Bagdad?

  • Mark says:

    Not sure if you saw this but supposedly Osama and Zawahiri took part in the selection of new leadership for al Qaeda in Iraq.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Hi Mark,
    Yes, I noted that when I discussed the al-Masri victory speech on the 10th:
    If the Tactical Report is true, note that “The delegates who represented Bin Laden at the meeting insisted that an Iraqi Emir takes over the leadership in Iraq to avoid more cracks in Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia.”
    Al-Baghdadi is the leader of the Mujahideen Shura (has been since February), so he’s the logical choice. I’ve said all along that this is an attempt to ‘Iraqify’ al-Qaeda’s efforts in Iraq. Al-Baghdadi is what is commonly referred to as a sock puppet. Al-Masri is in charge.

  • comradelittle says:

    50 dead terrorists, eh? Hardly the first day on the Somme.

  • Michael says:

    What do you want, nuclear winter? This is not WWI or WWII, Korea or Vietnam.
    You throw up a strawman for what purpose?
    The point I made is that daily, weekly, our soldiers are winning against the insurgency and defeating Al Qaeda, Baathist and other associated thugs. And this does not get reported accurately in clear detail the way it should in the MSM.
    Or do you disagree?
    In my estimation, a majority of the Media did a terrible job and continue to do so. They intentionally under reported our succeses and scaled up shows that feed upon fears. CutNruN is notorious for such actions and for specific melodramatic reporting of enemy success.
    If we had the media in WWII that we have today, Europe would speak German today. Our nation would’ve given up within the first year as CutNruN and NYT undermined our governments ability to keep secrets and keep up the morale of Americans. The UK would merely be an apendage as part of Hitler Third Reich.
    We could flatten Iraq like we did much of Germany and asked for unconditional surrender on the part of the Islamic Imams. But we did not do so. Therefore we’re left with fighting an insurgency.
    But at the very least our media should report it clearly and accurately for the success our military has each and every day. Currently, most do not do so. It is shameful.

  • Marlin says:

    I finally came across a piece in the MSM describing this battle.
    FORWARD OPERATING BASE CALDWELL, Iraq, Nov. 23 – Sunni Arab militant groups suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia have established training camps east of Baghdad that are turning out well-disciplined units willing to fight American forces in set-piece battles, American military commanders said Thursday.
    American soldiers fought such units in a pitched battle last week in Turki, a village 25 miles south of this Iraqi Army base in volatile Diyala Province, bordering Iran. At least 72 insurgents and two American officers were killed in more than 40 hours of fighting. American commanders said they called in 12 hours of airstrikes while soldiers shot their way through a reed-strewn network of canals in extremely close combat.
    New York Times: Some Fighters in Iraq Adopt New Tactics to Battle U.S.


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