As al Qaeda in Iraq attempts to reestablish its networks in the northern and eastern provinces, Iraqi and US security forces continue to target the terror group’s networks. Today, Iraqi Security Forces launched Operation Raging Eagle in the northern city of Kirkuk in Tamin province. Iraqi-led operations are also underway in Salahadin province and the southern city of Diwaniyah.
Thirty insurgent suspects have been detained during Operation Raging Eagle, while a curfew has been imposed on both pedestrian and vehicle traffic in the city. “The operation, which will continue until 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, also resulted in the seizure of seven suspected (explosive) vehicles and an amount of weapons and ammunition,” an unnamed police source told Voices of Iraq.
Just one day prior to the launch of the Iraqi-led security operation, US and Iraqi security forces captured 33 insurgent suspects during an operation in a southwestern district of Kirkuk. Several caches have been uncovered.
Al Qaeda in Iraq has been targeting police and governmental officials in the city. Today, terrorists gunned down a member of Kirkuk’s municipal council in the al Riyadh district. On November 15, an assassination attempt with a suicide bombing targeting the Kirkuk chief of emergency police resulted in five killed and 22 wounded.
In early November, Iraqi and US forces launched a division-plus-sized operation, called Iron Hammer, in the northern provinces of Ninewa, Tamin, Salahadin, and Diyala. Over 200 al Qaeda operatives, including three unnamed senior leaders have been detained during the operation.
Al Qaeda in Iraq has attempted to regroup in the regions of the north as well as in eastern Diyala province. The terror group is attempting to preserve its forces by moving out from the major cities and into the rural regions while attacking security forces in the major northern cities. Al Qaeda is attempting to regroup in the Hamrin Mountain chain and regions along the Iranian border in the east in Diyala and the Sinjar region to the west in Ninewa. The Hamrin Mountains, which span Diyala, Salahadin, and Tamin provinces, are believed to be a major fallback position for al Qaeda in Iraq and allied insurgent groups.
In neighboring Ninewa province, al Qaeda conducted two major attacks in the past 24 hours. A car bombing at the al Qayara Bridge south of Mosul caused damage to the structure. Seven Iraqis were killed and 21 wounded in a suicide car bomb attack in the city of Mosul, while another two were killed and 11 wounded in an IED attack at a police checkpoint.
“A car rigged with explosives driven by a suicide bomber, went off right after the Friday prayers targeting a patrol of the Iraqi police’s 5th Division at the al Mithaq intersection, southeastern Mosul, killing five people, including two policemen, and injuring ten,” Brigadier General Muhammad al-Wakkaa told Voices of Iraq on Friday. “The attack caused severe material damage to nearby houses and stores and set ablaze five civilian vehicles. A few minutes later an improvised explosive device exploded targeting a police checkpoint in al Baath intersection in southeastern Mosul, killing two policemen and wounding 11 civilians.”
Iraqi Security Forces have also launched two other offensives in Salahadin province and in Diwaniyah further to the south. “A joint Iraqi-U.S. force imposed a curfew on traffic in Samarra as of Saturday dawn until further notice due to the launching of a military operation in the city,” Voices of Iraq reported.
In Diwaniyah, Operation Lion’s Leap, a division-plus-sized operation comprised of at least two Iraqi Army brigades, a National Police brigade, and a US Army brigade, is targeting the Mahdi Army. “The forces implementing the Lion’s Leap in Diwaniya city have arrested 126 wanted men and confiscated dozens of tons of ammunitions, explosives and arms over the last week,” said Major General Othman al Ghanmi, the 8th Iraqi Army Division’s commanding officer.
Lion’s Leap is focusing on the Iranian-backed elements of the Mahdi Army and the Special Groups, which target Iraqi governmental officials and US and Iraqi security forces. “The real threat to our troops was the explosive charges that killed many of our men,” said Ghanmi. “Our troops have been provided with new equipment to detect explosive devices and thus these bombs have become under control. … [T]he most dangerous bombs were those called the Iranian EFP [explosively formed penetrators] of which 24 were confiscated and more were still planted between houses and neighborhoods.”
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