Coalition special forces, al Qaeda fight major battle in Tarmiyah

The same day Multinational Forces Iraq reported it had killed Tha’ir Malik, the emir of Tarmiyah, Coalition forces fought a major battle against the terror network in the city. Twenty-five al Qaeda in Iraq operatives were killed and 21 captured after Coalition forces conducted a series of raids west of the central Sunni city searching for senior al Qaeda leaders.

The term “Coalition forces” in Multinational Forces Iraq press releases usually is referring to Task Force 88 or The Task Force, the special operations hunter-killer teams assigned to dismantle al Qaeda in Iraq’s leadership. The scope of the battle and number of al Qaeda operatives killed and captured indicates the Task Force may have come close to its mark.

The battle was initiated after soldiers spotted fighters and called in close air support to attack. The al Qaeda teams engaged the Coalition aircraft with anti-aircraft weapons before moving to a secondary fighting position and then other buildings. Also uncovered at one of the sites was “two substantially large weapons caches” which “included numerous anti-aircraft machine guns, surface-to-surface missiles, rifles, pistols, grenades, mortar rounds and artillery shells. Coalition forces also found a large quantity of ammunition and components used to manufacture improvised explosive devices.” No Coalition casualties were reported.

During the hunt for Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the Task Force fought frequent, large-scale engagements in the Yusafiyah, Samarra, and Baqubah regions before Zarqawi was finally found in Baqubah and killed in an airstrike. One of the features of these engagements was encountering al Qaeda anti-aircraft teams, which were assigned to protect the senior leaders from Coalition air support. Another feature was the steady stream of al Qaeda leaders and operatives close to Zarqawi who were killed or captured during a short period of time.

Along with the killing of Tha’ir Malik, the Task Force captured Yasin Turki Mahmud Slaih and Marwan ‘Abdullah Ahmad ‘Abd, two members of al Masri’s personal security detachment. Both of al Masri’s bodyguards were captured near Tarmiyah. Forty-five senior al Qaeda in Iraq leaders were killed or captured in October alone.

Over the past year, Tarmiyah has been one of the most dangerous regions in Iraq. Situated on the Tigris River in south Salahadin province just north of Baghdad, Tarmiyah has served as a base of operations for al Qaeda in Iraq. The Task Force has conducted raids against al Qaeda’s leadership in the town on a near daily basis. Al Qaeda conducted a coordinated suicide attack and massed assault on a US base in Tarmiyah in February 2007.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.



  • Fight4TheRight says:

    All I can say is this – I am in complete awe of the precision of Task Force 88.

  • Tommy says:

    I’m shocked he hasn’t fled Iraq already!
    Prediction time: He’ll be in custody or 6 feet under by January 1st.

  • RJ says:

    This is good news. I wonder what the retention rate of our soldiers (who with such experience are in many ways the future leaders needed in this War on Terror) has become. I think our country just may need to debate the reality of a military draft…sooner, rather than later.

  • DJ Elliott says:

    Retention is the highest it has been in the last three decades.
    Troops that think they are making a difference, tend to stay…

  • Andrew R. says:

    Anything that kills AQI in wholesale lots is good news. I think that better news, though, will be at a point when we no longer see this sort of story because AQI no longer even has the capability to gather in platoon-sized units.

  • templar knight says:

    Task Force 88 is really grinding AQI up. The most important thing to do is keep the pressure on, leave them no time to regroup or reorganize, and kill as many as possible. Granted, it is important to capture some of them for intelligence purposes, the majority of these AQI operatives should be killed, as it is highly unlikely these people can be rehabilitated.

  • David M says:

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  • karensky says:

    Just wondering…if a sheik’s bodyguards surrender is the sheik alive?

  • Mark E. says:

    Is al Masri going to be nabbed soon as well?

  • Matt says:

    “All I can say is this – I am in complete awe of the precision of Task Force 88.”
    Couldn’t agree more. Iowahawk doesn’t call them “Team Satan” for nothin’!!

  • Therapist1 says:

    So much for not being taken alive.

  • AQI Losses says:

    Ayyub al-Masri is feeling the heat. The walls are closing in. Consider:

  • Rhyno327/lrsd says:

    Task Force 88 is the cream of the crop of US/UK SF. They operate on a different level than other “special” units in the Army and Marine Corps. They get the weapons they want, they got CAS just a call, and they are there. They are focused on the mission and are running them right out of iraq. Great job, and a “special” bunch of guys. AQ must be a little nervous knowing they are being “hunted”. If ya can’t bring ’em in alive, bring thier corpses back.

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