Rutbah – Fact vs Fiction

Report of ambush, casualties on U.S. forces in the western town of Anbar false

Iraq. Click map to view.

News from the distant western towns of Anbar province is few and far between as reporters do not often travel to the far reaches of Iraq. The town of Rutbah is particularly distant from the center of gravity of Baghdad. Rutbah is a smuggler’s town and a transit point in the Syrian desert in the southwestern corner of Iraq, which is nearly equidistant from Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Al Qaeda has attempted to control the town to facilitate the transit of weapons, cash and foreign terrorists into Iraq’s central regions.

Today, IraqSlogger reprinted an unconfirmed account of a battle in Rutbah which originated from the Voice of Iraq. The report claims a U.S. convoy was ambushed after a roadside bomb attack, with untold numbers of U.S. casualties and destroyed military vehicles. “Unidentified gunmen lurking in 4WD vehicles with mounted machine-guns ambushed the U.S. convoy after the explosive devices went off,” according to Voice of Iraq. “Civilians, who were driving nearly 200 meters behind the U.S. convoy, told VOI that a number of U.S. soldiers were killed and wounded, adding that the explosive charges destroyed several U.S. military vehicles.”

“No comment was made by the U.S. on the incident in Rutbah,” Voice of Iraq claimed.

But in an email follow up with Major Jeffery Pool, the Public Affairs Director for Multinational Forces West, we’ve discovered the incident reported in Rutbah is in fact false. “Looking back one week from today we show no enemy activity in AO [Area of Operations] Mobile,” said Major Pool. “AO Mobile covers almost the entire route from the two points of entry at Waleed and Trebil to Ramadi. [This week] there was one small weapons find and one detainee taken, but that is it.”

AO Mobil is controlled by the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operation Capable). “Task Force Bullrush [the designation of the 15th MEU] has done a absolutely outstanding job of securing the city from Al Qaeda in Iraq and helping to improve lives of the citizens in Rutbah,” said Major Pool.

The news going unreported from Rutbah is far less glamorous than the false report of an ambush of a Marine convoy and mass casualties. Ma’moun Sami Rashid Alwani, the Governor of Anbar province, accompanied by the Director Generals of Education, Electricity, a Provincial Council representative and Brigadier General John Allen, the Deputy Commanding General of Multi National Force West, recently visited Rutbah to discuss “topics concerning the critical infrastructure of power, water, fuel, education, sanitation, security and healthcare requirements in the city.” Governor Ma’moun “pledged nearly 50 million Iraqi dinar (approximately $35,000) to the city,” – a large sum in the impoverish environs of western Iraq.

The local government recently recruited 70 police officers, and there are now a total of 200 volunteer police from Rutbah ready to attend an Iraqi Police training academy. They are waiting for final approval from Iraq’s Minister of the Interior.

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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  • al fin says:

    There is enough tragedy without making it up. What kind of brain rotted swine would do that? I am sick of people who crow over every coalition death, like ghouls.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    It is called propaganda.
    Events are made up about your enemy losing/your side winning/enemy atrocities/etc and feed to friendly press.
    The gullable fall for it…
    Under US law the US armed forces are forbiden from using falsehoods in the press. We are the only country/organization in the world that has that law. The rest of the world can lie all they want without facing legal repercussions…

  • DJ Elliott says:

    Clairification: US Military is forbiden by US law from providing false data to US press.
    US Military can lie to foreign press.
    If the US press reads it, does not verify and runs with it, that is their mistake…

  • Tony says:

    It looks like you believe that the US law forbidding lying to the press should be changed.
    Under the statute you propose, should there also be no restrictions on lying to Congress, the ones who authorize war? For example, would you support an absolute right of the executive branch to also lie in sworn testimony to Congress? Would this affect the checks and balances embedded in the Constitution in any way?
    As you know, only Congress can declare war under the US Constitution. Some would argue that it might be helpful if they knew the truth.
    What would your view on that be?

  • fubar says:

    Post deleted for language. Please see the comments policy. Feel free to republish without the language.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    Do not put words in my mouth.
    I simply pointed out that, the only organization in the world, forbiden by law from telling the US press a lie, is the US military.
    Funny how the press gives the rest of the world (including AQ) more credibility than the US Military…

  • DJ Elliott says:

    I do appreciate your demonstration of another form of propaganda: The false premis or strawman…

  • CCH says:

    Clearly, as Baghdad comes under control, AQ must demonstrate activity in Anbar and Diyala. When resources get low, an invented story is just as effective, if not more effective, as is a true attack, from AQ’s point of view. This suggests AQ’s sense of erosion of support, particularly among the Sunni sheiks in Anbar. I think this is a positive sign even though the media took it hook, line, and sinker.

  • Moose Hagopian says:

    Hi Bill,
    Thank you so much for providing such a valuable service to the American public. I linked to the Iraqi Slogger from your post and lo and behold there was this big retraction with reference to your post. Just think, if you had not written your piece the American public would only be exposed to the enemies propaganda aided by our MSM. Remember Iraqi Slogger is headed by Eason Jordan. Having stated that doesn’t mean that there is no bad news coming from Iraq. However the relentless publicizing of only car bombings and American deaths from the MSM grinds down the American public’s will and hope. We are an impatient and spoiled people.That is why your reporting is so valuable. Hopefully after this war is over there will be a recognition that your genre of reporting is the future of war correspondence. It is so sadly needed. Again, thank you.

  • Dave Thul says:

    Hey all-
    I go past Rutbah 3 or 4 times a week. It’s a hotspot, certainly, but I can tell you for sure that nothing like the ambush reported occured last week.

  • DJ, that’s the primary reason we are losing the infowar. Lawfare. Our PSYOPS people are afraid to conduct robust counter propaganda because it would it would get back to the domestic audience in the States and offend the usual suspects.
    The Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 never envisioned the internet, but the majority party WANTS our operator’s hands tied so it won’t be amended any time soon.
    But only government operators are subject to Smith-Mundt. Civilian irregular volunteers can do counter propaganda for the domestic target audience.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    Cannoneer No. 4:
    I know. My heartburn with Tony is his strawman propaganda tactics (specificaly about lying to congress).
    Especially since I know that the public Unclas televised testamony by senior officials (e.g. DNI) is not the same as the Classified testamony. In some cases it is 180…
    You do not have to lie to practice Operational Deception. Good OPDEC lets people follow their own preconceptions down the wrong path and does not bother to correct them.
    I am very well practiced at sorting out real from propaganda and how to recognise OPDEC.
    Retired Intel Spec USN. 22 years of dealing with the world of deceptions…

  • Tony says:

    Do taxpayers have any rights here?
    Isn’t it the taxpayers who are paying the bills?
    What is your view?

  • bubba says:

    Of course taxpayers have rights! Heck, any taxpayer can opt out of paying taxes to fund any particular federal program or agency that they dislike.
    Didn’t yoy know the United States did away with it’s federalist form of government years ago? Now with our direct participatory form of government all 300 million Americans enjoy the luxury of micro-managing public policy down to the minutest level. Elected branches of government just became so passe. Our congress, executive and judiciary are just quaint hold-overs and window dressing from a bygone era. Kind of like the European Commission and Parliament
    Heck, I write the IRS commissioner every year to exempt my taxes from being used to support federal flood insurance programs, agricultural price supports, Head Start, and that dastardly Star Chamber located deep beneath D.C.’s Thomas Circle.

  • eLarson says:

    located deep beneath D.C.’s Thomas Circle.
    Pardon my Instapundit but… “heh”.

  • bubba says:

    Pardon my Instapundit but… “heh”.”
    Thank you, folks! Thank you very much. You’ve been a great audience.
    Acerbic wit aside, when I read “questions” like Tony’s I can’t help but think of all those wide-eyed freshmen I see entering their first introductory comp lit or gender studies survey course.
    Four months later they leave the decontructionist assembly line quoting Frantz Fanon or Andrea Dworkin and just such inanities as Tony’s. Ultimately requiring extensive de-programming and broader multi-disciplinary exposure to reverse the corrosive effects of such indoctrination.

  • David M says:

    Trackbacked by The Thunder Run – Web Reconnaissance for 03/26/2007
    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

  • Eason Jordan’s IraqSlogger Prints then Retracts Agitprop

    Finish this sentence: The only place imaginary casualties come from is from our ______.


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram