Clearing operation launched against al Qaeda in Iraq in the Diyala River Valley
On the same day Multinational Forces Iraq announced Phantom Strike, a major operation against the networks of al Qaeda in Iraq and Iranian-backed Shia terror groups, Coalition forces announced the onset of a major clearing operation in Diyala province. Dubbed Operation Lightning Hammer, elements of two Iraqi Army divisions, Diyala police, five US combat brigades and a combat air brigade are striking al Qaeda positions in the Diyala River Valley north of Baqubah
Multinational Division – North is “Taking advantage of concentrated forces in Diyala province” to launch the search for al Qaeda operatives who fled Baqubah Over 16,000 US and Iraqi troops are involved in the operation. Lightning Hammer began when “Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, partnered with members of the 5th Iraqi Army Division, initiated the operation with a late-night air assault into targeted locations to capture or kill al-Qaeda.”
Lightning Hammer follows Operation Arrowhead Ripper, the Iraqi and US effort to clear Diyala’s provincial capital from the grip of al Qaeda and its Islamic State of Iraq. US and Iraqi Security Forces have focused in on the towns and cities north and east of Baqubah ver the past week. US and Iraqi Security Forces established a series of combat outposts in a series of strategic towns during the spring in preparation for this operation.
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