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U.S. AND IRAQI FORCES LAUNCH OPERATION STEEL CURTAIN"Operation Steel Curtain marks the first large-scale employment of multiple battalion-sized units of Iraqi Army forces in combined operations with Coalition Forces in the last year in al Anbar Province". As we noted in our look at the situation along Route Irish in Baghdad, this will be
CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, AR RAMADI, Iraq ? Approximately 2,500 Marines, Sailors and Soldiers with Regimental Combat Team-2 and 1,000 Iraqi Army Soldiers began Operation Al Hajip Elfulathi (Steel Curtain) in western Al Anbar Nov. 5.
The objectives of Operation Steel Curtain are to restore security along the Iraqi-Syrian border and destroy the al Qaeda in Iraq's terror network operating throughout Husaybah.
The operation follows on the heels of Operations Iron Fist and River Gate. During Operation Steel Curtain, elements of the 1st Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division and specially trained scout platoons recruited from the Al Qaim region will take part in this operation.
Since early summer, the combat capabilities of the Iraqi forces have grown in Al Anbar province. Iraqi security forces now include almost two full infantry divisions of Iraqi Army Soldiers. During the past six months, two division headquarters have formed in the province, four brigade headquarters and ten infantry battalions have deployed to the Al Anbar to join the fight against al Qaeda in Iraq led insurgency. Operation Steel Curtain marks the first large-scale employment of multiple battalion-sized units of Iraqi Army forces in combined operations with Coalition Forces in the last year in al Anbar Province.
Terrorists have used the region?s porous borders to smuggle foreign fighters, money and equipment into Iraq to be used in their ongoing attacks against the Iraqi people and Coalition Forces. Terrorists continue to influence the local population of Husaybah through murder and intimidation and have vowed to prevent the citizens of western Al Anbar Province from participating in the democratic process.
The offensive is part of Operation Sayaid (Hunter) designed to deny al Qaeda in Iraq the ability to operate in the Euphrates River Valley and to establish a joint permanent security presence along the Syrian border. By eliminating terrorist influence in and around Husaybah, Coalition and Iraqi security forces are providing a safe and secure environment to allow the Iraqi people in that region to vote in the upcoming Dec. 15 national elections.
Additional information concerning the progress of Operation Steel Curtain will be provided as it becomes available.
...victory on two fronts. On one level it's battle won and ground gained in a very different kind of war. But it's not just the ground gained that matters. It's the successful deployment of Iraqi forces that makes this a victory on a second front for the good guys. The key to a successful return from Iraq for coalition forces is the assumption of responsibility for security by the Iraqis - and real progress is being made.Prior to the attack coalition airsrikes took out three terrorist safe houses:
TERRORISTS KILLED IN HUSAYBAH AIR STRIKE IDENTIFIEDBill Roggio has more, and analyzes the battle in the context of the wider conflict in western Iraq.
BAGHDAD, Iraq ? Coalition Forces identified five al-Qaida leaders killed by an air strike in Husaybah Oct. 29.
Coalition Forces conducted a series of raids on suspected terrorist and foreign fighter safe houses to capture or kill terrorists operating in the town of Husaybah. During the raids, Coalition forces destroyed three safe houses with air strikes using precision guided munitions.
One of the safe houses destroyed was the location of an apparent meeting between al Qaida in Iraq (AQIZ) terrorist leaders from the Husaybah and Al Qaim areas.
Coalition Forces now confirm the deaths of five key al Qaida in Iraq (AQIZ) terrorist leaders who were killed in that meeting. They are:
? Abu Asil, a North African terrorist, was the senior AQIZ foreign fighter facilitator in the Al Qaim region and an associate of Zarqawi. His influence stretched across Al Anbar province and he was relied upon to provide foreign fighters and suicide bombers to AQIZ terrorist cells in the region. Asil had contacts throughout the Middle East who were involved in the recruiting, transportation, training and smuggling of foreign fighters and suicide bombers into Iraq.
? Abu Raghad, a senior AQIZ foreign fighter terrorist cell leader who operated in the Husaybah area. He was responsible for planning, coordinating, and executing attacks against coalition forces. Those attacks include the emplacement of IEDs and mines and the facilitation, production and use of VBIEDs.
? Abu Talha, an AQIZ terrorist cell leader in the Ubaydi area. Talha directed, planned, coordinated and executed terrorist attacks in and around Ubaydi. Specifically, Talha?s cell was responsible for the production, and emplacement, and implementation of IED and VBIED attacks in the area.
? Abu Usama and Abu Salman, AQIZ terrorist cell leaders in the Husaybah area who were active in carrying out local terrorist attacks. Besides planning and conducting terrorist attacks, they procured weapons such as rockets, anti-aircraft missiles and mines for use against coalition forces. The weapons then would be distributed to their terrorist cells to be used in attacks against Iraqi Security and Coalition forces.
Other news from Iraq details strategy changes on the part of the terrorists. Their latest innovations include dressing as women:
Rebels Dressed as Women Attack Iraqi Police StationAnd an ongoing effort to win hearts and minds:
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Saturday, Nov. 5 - Insurgent attacks across central Iraq, including one in which the guerrillas disguised themselves as women, left at least 16 dead on Friday as Shiite Arabs across the country began celebrating the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
In the deadliest assault, insurgents dressed in women's clothing attacked a police checkpoint in the town of Buhriz, 35 miles north of Baghdad, killing at least 6 police officers and wounding at least 10 others, American and Iraqi officials said. The guerrillas were armed with Kalashnikov rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars, and pulled up in five cars, an Interior Ministry official said. The police officers killed at least two of the gunmen, he added.
Iraq's most feared terror group warned foreign diplomats yesterday to flee the country after announcing it will put to death two kidnapped Moroccan Embassy employees.Make that "win cold hearts and deranged minds".
Insurgents killed 11 Iraqi security troops and an American soldier in separate attacks.
The warning came in a statement posted on an Islamist Web site in the name of al Qaeda in Iraq, which also claimed responsibility for the July kidnap-slaying of two envoys from Algeria and one from Egypt as well as the abduction and beheading of many other foreigners.
On Thursday, another Internet statement attributed to al Qaeda said the two Moroccans had been condemned to death. There was no indication yesterday they had been killed.
"We are renewing our threat to those so-called diplomatic missions who have insisted on staying in Baghdad and have not yet realized the repercussions of such a challenge to the will of the mujahideen," yesterday's statement said. "Let them know that there is no difference in our judgment between the head of a diplomatic mission and the lowest-level employee."