06 July 2008

Al-Qaeda in Iraq Crushed

What's the Arabic for Failure?

This is ISI (al-Qaeda in Iraq) propaganda from May of last year (h/t Blogs of War). Back then Al-Qaeda had some control of the Dora neighborhood of Baghdad and much of Diyala province (including the main city, Baquoba). After more U.S. and Iraqi troops went into Diyala province under Operation Arrowhead Ripper in June 2007, much of the foreign fighters fled further north to Salah Ad-Din, Tamin, and Ninawa provinces. Operation Lion's Roar was launched in May 2008 to clear out Mosul and the surrounding areas of Al-Qaeda once and for all.

According to the Times of London, this may be the "final purge" (h/t Jason):

Last Friday I joined the 2nd Iraqi Division as it supported local police in a house-to-house search for one such bomb after intelligence pointed to a large explosion today.

Even in the district of Zanjali, previously a hotbed of the insurgency, it was possible to accompany an Iraqi colonel on foot through streets of breeze-block houses studded with bullet holes. Hundreds of houses were searched without resistance but no bomb was found, only 60kg of explosives.

American and Iraqi leaders believe that while it would be premature to write off Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the Sunni group has lost control of its last urban base in Mosul and its remnants have been largely driven into the countryside to the south...

Brigadier General Abdullah Abdul, a senior Iraqi commander, said: “We’ve limited their movements with check-points. They are doing small attacks and trying big ones, but they’re mostly not succeeding.”

Major-General Mark Hertling, American commander in the north, said: “I think we’re at the irreversible point.

Sometimes the Iraqi leadership can get a tad over-optimistic, but Maj. Gen. Hertling is a leader known for "shooting it straight" as he admitted that high-profile attacks were increasing in Mosul in January. So, this is something to be optimistic about and not just wishful thinking. Despite the fact that this article has a Mosul byline, expect the bureau wags back in NYC and London to repeat the same nonsense about the surge failing and civil war gripping Iraq...or expect them to just ignore the war altogether. But this is a serious tactical victory.

Now it might be time to ask, "If they trans-national terrorists are fleeing Iraq, does our military still need to be there?"