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June 22, 2007

Battle Of Baqubah Heating Up - The 'Real Surge' Has Begun

(Cross posted from Hyscience)

[A soldier assigned to the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, provides security and uses a smoke grenade for concealment during Operation Arrowhead Ripper, in Baqouba, Iraq, June 19, 2007. The operation is a joint effort between U.S. and Iraqi security forces to defeat al-Qaeda terrorists and secure the city. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Armando Monroig)]

Except for the real story coming from guys like Michael Yon and Bill Roggio, you'd almost think the media was blacking out Baquba. But as Hot Air notes, they're just downplaying it in order to focus on death tolls. The Times, the Post, the LA Times, and now Time magazine all have reports on the battle, two of them filed by people on the scene. But they know what their readers want.

However, the title of Michael Yon's piece tells the real story. In "Surrender or Die," Michael Yon's latest piece on Baqubah, provides coverage that's well worth reading:

The combat in Baqubah should soon reach a peak. Al Qaeda seems to have been effectively isolated. The initial attack on 19 June achieved enough surprise that al Qaeda was caught off guard and trapped. They have been beaten back mostly into pockets and are surrounded and will be dealt with. Part of this is actually due to the capability of Strykers. We were able to "attack from the march." In other words, a huge force drove in from places like Baghdad and quickly locked down Baqubah.
And as evidence that the media has finally realized that there is serious business at hand, Yon starts off with a quick media roundup:
Alexandra Zavis from Los Angeles Times is down in the heat of the battle bringing home information. Michael Gordon from New York Times is still slugging it out, and his portions are accurate in the co-authored story, "Heavy Fighting as US Troops Squeeze Insurgents in Iraqi City" (Long title).

CNN has joined the fight. AP came but will stay only a few days. Joe Klein from TIME was here on the 21st and his story posted the same day and was accurate. We rode together in a Stryker. Like magic, Joe's story was out before I got back to base. Joe took a helicopter out and filed from elsewhere. I'm having comms problems here which is greatly slowing the flow. My Thuraya satellite phone and RBGAN satellite dish are not working for hours each day. The AP reporter is having the same problems. The signal degradation is caused by a special sort of RF interference. Moving our antennas around won't work. We simply get cut off for long periods.

I am with 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team. I've run a few missions with them in Baghdad, and they have fought all over Iraq. This Brigade has much recent combat experience, and is expertly commanded. A person does not need to even meet the commanders (though I do each day) to know they are running a tight ship. The professionalism of 3-2 is particularly high, and they are very competent fighters who are maximizing their assets, including the incredible Stryker vehicles.

Keep reading here ...., along with images of the battle area.

Jules points to the AP's being there now: 80 percent of upper level AQ leadership scooted, 80 percent of lower level leadership still there, with several hundred AQ deadenders determined to fight to the death. NYT on Iraqi whack-a-mole.

Bill Rogio has a status update on the operations in the Baghdad Belts and beyond, and offers the good news that as the major offensive is ongoing in the belts, the pressure is being kept up on Muqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army as well as al Qaeda's network throughout Iraq.

The large portion of the media attention has focused on the battle in Baqubah, as this is where the brunt of the heavy fighting is occurring. Baqubah is the provincial capital of Diyala as well as al Qaeda's proclaimed capital of its rump Islamic State of Iraq. Hundreds, and upwards of 1,000 al Qaeda fighters are believed to be holed up in the city in prepared fighting positions. The city has been mined with IEDs and booby-trapped homes, and seeded with snipers.

Michael Gordon reported U.S. troops moving into western Baqubah, where they found well-prepared medical aid stations and field hospitals. "The hospital, uncovered by troops from the Fifth Battalion, 20th Infantry, was equipped with oxygen tanks, defibrillators, generators and surgical equipment, as well as pieces of insurgent propaganda," noted Mr. Gordon. Baqubah and greater Diyala province is al Qaeda country.

"At least 41 insurgents have been killed, five weapons caches have been discovered, 25 improvised explosive devices have been destroyed and five booby-trapped houses have been discovered and destroyed," Multinational Forces Iraq reported last evening.

The 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 2nd Infantry Division (3/2) appears to be shouldering the brunt of the combat. The soldiers from the 3/2 "killed 24-36 enemy fighters and detained nine," according to Mike Gilbert of the News Tribune. "They found and destroyed 16 other roadside bombs, four houses that had been rigged to explode, and two car bombs. They found two safe houses, destroyed what he described as a mobile weapons cache, and captured two other weapons caches, including 'a significant IED cache.'"

Both Michael Gordon and Michael Yon, who are embedded in Baqubah, reported U.S. and Iraqi troops are receiving valuable intelligence from the residents of Baqubah. "A positive indicator on the 19th and the 20th is that most local people apparently are happy that al Qaeda is being trapped and killed," Michael Yon wrote. "Civilians are pointing out IEDs and enemy fighters, so that's not working so well for al Qaeda."

While the reporting from the regions outside Baqubah is sparse, there are indications engagements are also ongoing in the Diyala River valley.

Continue reading and learn more about other ongoing operations in Iraq: Operation Phantom Thunder: The Battle of Iraq

I believe it's safe to now say that the REAL SURGE has now begun. As Strata-Sphere descibes it, The Surge Is Massive, And Intense:

... The Surge was not just an effort to bring in a lot more troops to walk the streets and man checkpoints. It was meant to clear or purge large areas of the Islamo Fascists so as to reduce the violence in and around Baghdad - where 80% of the violence was taking place. It is a very large operation where the Diyala campaign, called Arrowhead Ripper, is just one element:

... The good news is the Iraqi-US forces have established themselves in configurations which are surrounding the al-Qaeda (and sympathizing groups') strongholds so that there is no place for the Islamo Fascists to go. The fighting is most intense in Baquoba, the capitol city of Diyala Province and the second declared capitol city of al Qaeda's moder caliphate (Ramadi in Anbar was their original claimed capitol - which they lost a few months back when Anbar turned on al-Qaeda)

... I predicted a few months back that al-Qaeda's brutality would be its undoing and apparently I was right. al-Qaeda cannot exist of the local population is so angry it celebrates their destruction and is willing to take up arms against them. We have gone from what could have been a US surrender to al-Qaeda through a Congressional collapse of spine (nothing more) a few months back to a campaign were the Arab/Muslim street is now rising up against al-Qaeda and showing why the Democrats (or Surrendercrats as I call them) were incredibly wrong on Iraq. Al-Qaeda could have become the beacon of the Muslim world if we had left Iraq, but now they are being destroyed, in large part, by a backlash in the Muslim world.

The reporting on other elements of Phantom Thunder show similar reuslts.

Hello Democrats, RINOs, and the socialist progressive liberal anti-war left: "Serious surging" has begun - much to your chagrin and that of the liberal media.

Photo Essay here ...

Related: Operation Arrowhead Ripper: Day One
"Operation Arrowhead Ripper": Spectacular New Iraqi Offensive

(Hat tip - PreciseNews)

Posted by Richard at June 22, 2007 11:15 AM

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