Skip to comments.US Forces Launch Campaign To Regain Lost Sunni Territory
Posted on 09/09/2004 5:58:20 PM PDT by blam
US forces launch campaign to regain lost Sunni territory
By Adrian Blomfield in Baghdad
American forces launched a multi-pronged offensive in Iraq's Sunni badlands yesterday, striking enemy positions in two towns that had fallen under insurgent control and claiming to have peacefully retaken a third.
After months of creeping withdrawal from a growing number of towns in the north and west, the American military confirmed that major operations were under way to regain lost territory.
Local residents sift through the rubble of houses destroyed as US forces target Fallujah
A senior officer said American, supported by bombing raids, had killed almost 200 Iraqi rebels and foreign Islamic extremists during three days of fighting around Fallujah and the ancient town of Tal Afar close to the Syrian border.
"Our mission is to rid these areas of foreign extremists and restore them to the control of the legitimate Iraqi government," said one officer.
The American military's biggest success of the day was the recapture of Samarra, one of the three most important Sunni cities that have been under effective insurgent control since April, apparently without a shot being fired.
The 1st Infantry Division announced that it had reinstated the city council, which later met under a new interim mayor and acting police chief.
The re-establishment of government control in the city will restore some pride to American forces, who were forced to abort an attempt to put down an April uprising in Sunni areas by public outrage at the growing number of civilian and insurgent casualties.
Under what was seen as a humiliating truce, American forces agreed to surrender control of Fallujah to a group of former officials from Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party.
Since then there have been frequent clashes around the western city, but Sunni clerics officially declared the ceasefire over after a sustained American aerial and ground offensive began three days ago.
"What we have seen in Fallujah is pure American aggression," said Abdul Sattar Abdul Jabbar, a leading Sunni cleric. "They are massacring innocent civilians. They alone have broken the truce."
American officers insisted that there was no longer a truce left to abide by after a group of Islamic fundamentalists known as the Islamic council of holy warriors took over the city.
With Iraq's first democratic elections scheduled for January, a military solution to the crisis in what is known as the Sunni Triangle has become increasingly unavoidable.
A campaign to retake the southern city of Najaf from Shia militiamen loyal to the cleric Moqtada al-Sadr may have resulted in nearly 1,000 deaths but ended inconclusively from a military viewpoint.
The Sunni offensive risks becoming a tougher, more protracted affair. While the Shia militiamen were motivated by a slavish devotion to Sadr, they were often poorly trained and equipped.
The Sunni insurgents and their foreign allies are widely believed to be better armed, better disciplined and even more fanatical. Unlike Sadr's Mahdi army, they do not shrink from suicide bombings.
The initial strategy seems to be to choke off the insurgents' supply routes.
"Attempts at a peaceful solution have failed, resulting in the decision by local Iraqi leaders to initiate operations to free Tal Afar of the terrorists and to restore order," said Lt Col Paul Hastings at Task Force Olympia, headquarters of American military operations in north-western Iraq.
Hey Zarqawi....the Marines are coming for you..
It is going to be a bad day for bad people for the next few days in Iraq.
This is just outstanding news. Especially the news about Samarra. It was a true rebel strongpoint that we've been chipping away at for months. And now it crumbled without a whimper. Its defeat will make any action we take in Fallujah that much easier. And in the meantime, we continue to target key points within Fallujah that will shape it for its eventual collapse. While the rebels run around building bunkers, we watch and destroy them when it hurts them the most.
And I think more bomb to Fallujah , everyday .
Take no prisoners if they don't surrender.
My suggestion is to condemn the cesspool of Fallujah and kick everybody out. Make it general policy that if you allow terrorists scum to reside in your town, you will be packing your mule and forced to live in a Shiite community.
Fruits of politics which were so maligned prior to the June handover.
Who knows what Allawi will become, but you can just feel his presence. And so do the terrorists and so do the Iranians.
This all goes so, so far. My favorite indication of progress in Iraq is the brownouts caused by the sudden surfeit of air conditioners.
You are correct sir. Allawi is good. And he'll be even better when he clears us in hot to take out Sadr. But as far as Al Anbar goes, we are on the right track.
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