Operation Lightning Hammer II launched in Iraq’s North

The provinces of Iraq. Click map to view.

Multinational Forces Iraq and Iraqi Security Forces have launched a major offensive operation in Iraq’s northern provinces on September 5. Called Operation Lightning Hammer II, the offensive is aimed at al Qaeda’s network in Salahadin, Ninewa, Diyala, and Kirkuk provinces.

Operation Lightning Hammer II is a corps-sized operation, consisting of over 14,000 Iraqi Security Forces and 12,000 US troops. “Attack helicopters, close-air support, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, Stryker Vehicles and tanks compliment the combined effort,” Multinational Forces Iraq reported.

The latest operation follows August’s Operation Lightning Hammer that focused on al Qaeda’s presence in the Diyala River Valley north of the provincial capital Baqubah Baqubah itself was cleared of al Qaeda during Operation Arrowhead Ripper, which was launched in June. The Baghdad Security Plan and Phantom Thunder and Phantom Strike operations — which focused on al Qaeda and the Shia extremist cells in the Baghdad Belts — have pushed al Qaeda operations into regions in Ninewa, Kirkuk, Salahadin, and Diyala provinces. This rolling series of operations is designed to keep al Qaeda off balance, prevent the terrorists from reorganizing safe havens in new regions, and expanding the security perimeter beyond Baghdad.

Al Qaeda in Iraq and allied terror groups such as Ansar al Sunnah have pressed Iraqi Security Forces in the North since major combat operations began after the last “surge” brigade hit the ground running in June. Only one US combat brigade is operating in Ninewa, Iraq’s second most populous province, and a single battalion is operating in Mosul, the second largest city. Two of the best Iraqi Army Divisions, the 2nd and 3rd, operate in Ninewa province.

Al Qaeda has attempted to destroy the confidence of the Iraqi Army and police with attacks on civilians and security forces in Kirkuk, Mosul, Tal Afar, and other cities and towns. The largest suicide bombings during the course of the war occurred in four rural Yazidi villages; upwards of 500 civilians were killed in the attacks last month.

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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9 Comments

  • Fight4TheRight says:

    Bill and DJ,
    I really like the formatting of The Long War! Congrats on a great new look.
    Did you feel a “but” coming? haha Just one favor to ask and one observation:
    1. I was wondering if it might be possible to get the “Comments” link on the front page under each thread? I think a lot of us gravitate towards the threads that have some “action” going on there and right now, I can’t see if anyone has commented unless I click on the thread and go to the full story.
    2. I just tried to sign in to Type Key and it says the site isn’t set up for it yet.
    And thanks for the update on the new campaign going on in Iraq. I firmly believe that as long as a new campaign tails onto a successful one, the less breather that Al Qaeda will have.

  • Neo says:

    “Operation Lightning Hammer II is a corps-sized operation, consisting of over 14,000 Iraqi Security Forces and 12,000 US troops.”

  • Colin Mulloy says:

    Bill,
    I have a couple of questions. If this current offensive is as successful as the last one, where will the insurgents move to then? Will they try to continue moving north, into the Kurdish areas, or will they attempt to move outside of Iraq, into surrounding countries like Syria and Iran? Or is it possible they could once again move south, into the central provinces? I’d imagine that the areas they fled from would be pretty inhospitible to them now.
    Essentially, what I’m asking is how much more often can the aQ-backed insurgency relocate? Won’t they have to make a final stand sooner or later?

  • DJ Elliott says:

    Most likely Pakistan…

  • Jihad and Iraq Central 9-06-07

    I知 putting the Iraq and Jihad news in one post today because I need a freaking break. Some of this is from yesterday.

  • David M says:

    Trackbacked by The Thunder Run – Web Reconnaissance for 09/07/2007
    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day…so check back often.

  • DJ: Most likely Pakistan
    Via Greyhound?
    More likely to the safety of Syria. Then cross border strikes as in Afghanistan?

  • anand says:

    I think DJ means they transit through Syria and Iran. The vast majority of Iranians, including Shia extremists hate salafi violent extremists.
    Khamenei cannot very well keep these crazy salafi takfiri elements in his country. If his countrymen, fellow clerics, or loyal henchmen ever found out . . . he will be praying for a Saddam Hussein style ticket to heaven.
    Khamenei needs them to transit quickly and fast, ergo Pakistan. Moreover, delusional though Khamenei might be, he knows that Al Qaeda linked networks hate him like the plague and would turn on him in an instant, regardless of any “deal”

  • Operation Lightning Hammer II

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