View Full Version : Reinforcing Baghdad's Outer Belts

04-18-07, 07:40 AM
War Blog
By FrontPage Magazine
FrontPageMagazine.com | April 18, 2007


By Bill Roggio

Marines building several Combat Outposts in the Amiriya-Ferris region in Anbar

A crucial element of the Baghdad Security Plan is the establishment of security both inside the Baghdad neighborhoods and in Baghdad's outer belts – the regions about 30 miles outside of the city, where over 80 percent of the violence in Iraq occurs. This belt region is where al Qaeda is staging attacks into Baghdad, particularly the portions of the provinces of Anbar, Diyala, Babil and Salahadin, all which border Baghdad province. Over the past month, the Iraqi and U.S. security forces are beginning to build new Combat Outposts in the outer belts to disrupt al Qaeda and insurgent activity in the belts. This week, U.S. Marines built a series of Combat Outposts in the Amiriya-Ferris region, which is about 30 miles southwest of Baghdad, and 12 miles south of Fallujah.

“The Amiriya-Ferris region... has become a fallback point for terrorist groups pushed out of urban areas in the wake of successful operations by Iraqi and Coalition Forces,” notes the Multinational Forces West press release. “The 8th Engineer Support Battalion began construction of a number of combat outposts in the Amiriya-Ferris region of Al Anbar Province April 14.” U.S. and Iraqi Security Forces, as well as the Anbar Salvation Council [ASC], have fought pitched battles against al Qaeda in Iraq in this region over the past several months.

On March 2, over 300 al Qaeda attacked Amiriya in an attempt to assassinate a prominent leader of the Anbar Salvation Council, who was to attend the funeral of an ASC leader who was killed in a February 24 suicide bombing in Habbaniyah. The Iraqi police in Amiriya held off the attack, radioed for backup from Iraqi Army, police and members of the Thurwa al-Anbar, the tribal militias assembled by the Anbar Salvation Council. U.S. air support also engaged al Qaeda. At least 50 al-Qaeda were killed and 80 captured in the battle, along with 11 Iraqi Police killed.

In the second major battle in Amiriya in less than three weeks, a force of over 100 al Qaeda attacked the Anbar Salvation Council, on March 20. The ASC, backed by Iraqi security forces, killed 39 al Qaeda and captured 7 during the battle. Again, the target is believed to be a senior leader of the Anbar Salvation Council. Al Qaeda also targeted Amiriya with a chlorine suicide truck bomb on March 16. The target in Amiriya was a senior member of the Anbar Salvation Council. Fallujah and Ramadi were also targeted in near simultaneous attacks that same day.

The reinforcement in the Amiriya-Ferris region occurs as Iraqi police have dramatically reduced the violence in Ramadi, and the Anbar Salvation Council is making inroads in Fallujah. Iraqi security forces, with the help of the Anbar Salvation Council, recently killed Ahmad Hadid, the leader "Islamic State in Fallujah," and Ibrahim Keitan, “Al-Qaeda's military coordinator in Al-Anbar.”

This comes as a major dispute between the Islamic Army in Iraq and al Qaeda's Islamic State of Iraq was aired in public. The spokesman of the Islamic Army in Iraq claimed the insurgent group has severed ties with al Qaeda. Abu Omar al Baghdadi, the leader of al Qaeda's Islamic State of Iraq, just released a tape pleading with the Islamic Army to patch up the break. Insurgent groups are said to be seeking the support of the Iraqi government for assaistance in hunting al Qaeda, and the Iraqi government announced that it was in active negotiations with five Sunni insurgent groups who are attempting to dissociate themselves from al Qaeda.

Iraqi and U.S. forces are also establishing Combat Outposts in Diyala and Babil. On March 24, U.S. troops built a Combat Outpost in the town of Qubbah in the Diyala River Valley, which is just north of Baqubah. Iraqi and Coalition forces are also on the offensive in Buhriz, a southern suburb of Baqubah. Buhriz is slated to get a new Iraqi Police station, very likely to be manned in conjunction with U.S. forces. Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division established Forward Operating Base Yusifiyah in Babil province at some point in March or early April.

Both Yusifiyah and Baqubah have been al Qaeda havens. Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the former leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, was sheltering in Yusifiyah during the spring of 2006, and was eventually killed in Baqubah in June of last year. Al Qaeda in Iraq is believed to have moved over 2,000 fighters and its command and control elements into Diyala before the start of the Baghdad Security Plan. U.S. and Iraq forces will go on the offensive once the final two U.S. combat brigades arrive in theater. The last brigade is slated to arrive in June. Tuesday, April 17, 2007



04-20-07, 07:23 AM
War Blog
By FrontPage Magazine
FrontPageMagazine.com | April 20, 2007


By Bill Roggio

Eleven major suicide bombings inside Baghdad over the past five days threaten to erode remaining political support for the Baghdad Security Plan. Now is the time for flexibility.

After a relative lull in major, mass casualty suicide attacks inside Baghdad, al Qaeda in Iraq has gone on a major offensive inside the capital city. Al Qaeda's latest suicide offensive began on April 13; the last major bombing inside Baghdad was in a Shia market on March 29. Since April 13, al Qaeda has struck at 11 high profile targets inside the city limits. The targets have included the Iraqi Parliament, two of Baghdad's 11 bridges and Shia markets. Under the readership of Abu Ayyub al-Masri Al Qaeda in Iraq is proving agile in its ability to switch targets in Baghdad while continuing to strike at sectarian fault lines outside the capital. The latest campaign threats to erode the remaining support in America for the Baghdad Security Plan, which is still ramping up.

The campaign began with two major attacks in Baghdad on April 13, with the destruction of the Jisr al-Hadeed bridge, which crosses the Tigris river, and a high visibility attack on the Parliament building. The bridge was completely destroyed, and over 25 people were killed in the bombing or after their cars plunged into the Tigris. One Member of Parliament was killed and 7 were among the 22 wounded after a suicide bomber detonated his vest in the center of a cafe adjacent to the Parliament. Mohammed Awadh, a Sunni politician, was killed in the attack.

The following day, on April 14, a suicide bomber hit the Jadriyah bridge, which also crosses the Tigris river. Ten were killed and 15 wounded in the Jadriyah bridge bombing, but the bridge was not destroyed. Al Qaeda also conducted a major suicide bombing outside the capital in Karbala. A suicide car bomber murdered 47 Iraqis and wounded scores more just several hundred yards from the holy Shia shrine of the Imam Ali mosque in Karbala.

On April 15, al Qaeda struck with five bombs inside Baghdad – two in the Karrada neighborhood in central Baghdad, one Al Shurta Al Rabeia neighborhood in southwest Baghdad, and another in the Kadhimiya district. The Karrada bombings included 2 roadside bombs which killed 15 Iraqis and wounded another 50, and a car bomb aimed at a police station killed 5 and wounded 10 Iraqis. The Kadhimiya district bombing was carried out by a suicide bomber, who attacked a bus filled with Iraqis. Six Iraqis were killed and 11 wounded.

Today, on April 17, al Qaeda conducted three major attacks inside the capital. The largest attack occurred in the mixed Shia and Kurdish district of Al-Sadriyah near central Baghdad. At least 112 Iraqis were killed in the car bombing, and another 115 wounded. The second attack was carried out by an al Qaeda suicide car bomber. The bomber targeted a checkpoint just outside the Shia stronghold of Sadr City, and killed at least 30 and wounded another 45. The third attack occurred near a private hospital in the Karrada neighborhood. Eleven Iraqis were killed and another 13 wounded.

Al Qaeda in Iraq has clearly discovered a seam in the increased security inside Baghdad, and is directing its bombing campaign for political and sectarian effects. This bombing blitz is projecting an image of failure of the nascent Baghdad Security Plan. Al Qaeda clearly hopes to destroy any remaining political support inside the U.S. government and the American people for the security operation, which is still in mid deployment. Al Qaeda also hopes to reignite the Sunni-Shia sectarian war and the activity of the Shia death squads inside Baghdad, which has decreased significantly since the start of the security operation in mid-February.

While al Qaeda's haven in Anbar province has been diminishing over the past six months, the terror group has ramped up operations inside Diyala province, where thousands of al Qaeda fighters have relocated from Baghdad. From Diyala, al Qaeda is launching this devastating car and suicide bombing campaign. Al Qaeda's safe haven and command and control nodes inside the province must be diminished to alleviate the pressure on Baghdad.

Multinational Forces Iraq is still in mid-deployment of the soldiers alloted to the Baghdad Security Plan. The third of the five combat brigades, which are being deployed into Baghdad and the outer belts, has just arrived in Baghdad. The last brigade will not complete deployment until late may or early June. The Diyala Campaign will not kick into full gear until the entire compliment of forces are available to cordon al Qaeda's havens in the province in preparation for the assualt.

The question that remains is does Multinational Forces Iraq and General David Petraeus, the Commanding General, have the luxury to wait until as late as June to launch the Diyala offensive? Al Qaeda in Iraq is scoring major propaganda victories in the international media, and there is a question as to how long the Shia desire for revenge against the wholesale Sunni population can be held off.

The failure of lasts year's security operations inside Baghdad occurred after Multinational Forces Iraq, then under the command of General George Casey, did not react to al Qaeda in Iraq's initiation of the sectarian war. General Casey also failed to reacted to the inability of the Iraqi Army units to deploy in to Baghdad and the corruption of the Baghdad police. General Casey had no desire to ramp up U.S. forces to deal with the shortfall – he wanted to use “the minimum amount of force possible” to defeat the insurgency.

General Petraeus does not suffer from these deficiencies. Last year's inability to redeploy Iraqi Army units have been resolved, and all Iraqi Army units have arrived into Baghdad as planned. The corrupt Iraqi National Police brigades were pulled off the line, taken apart, vetted and retrained. The U.S committed an additional five combat infantry brigades, a combat aviation brigade and supporting units to Baghdad and the outer belts. The rules of engagement were changed to give U.S. forces greater flexibility to fight the insurgency. U.S. forces are no longer operating from large bases and fighting a commuter insurgency, but instead are deploying into forward bases inside Baghdad's neighborhoods.

But Coalition and Iraqi forces must react to al Qaeda's bombing offensive, as time may not be on its side. As we've said from the very beginning, “U.S. and Iraqi forces must be flexible, and quickly react to as yet unseen surprises.” Now is the time to be flexible. Wednesday, April 18, 2007