Coalition, Al Qaeda and Tribes Battle in Anbar and Diyala

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 10 months ago

On November 25, insurgents linked to al Qaeda attacked an Anbar tribe in an alliance of twenty five tribes who have vowed to fight al Qaeda.  The insurgents attacked the Abu Soda tribe in Sofiya, near the provincial capital of Ramadi, with mortars and small arms, burning homes, in apparent revenge for their support of the Iraqi government.  “Al Qaeda has decided to attack the tribes due to their support,” said Sheikh Abdel Sittar Baziya, head of the Abu Risha tribe and a founder of the movement. “The terrorists have gone to a neighboring tribe and have brought fighters to attack the Abu Soda.”

Al Qaeda attacked through a tribal area checkpoint, and burned homes and killed tribal members using small arms and mortar fire.  Coalition forces assisted the Abu Soda tribe with air strikes and artillery fire at al Qaeda.  There is no report of coalition casualties, but fifty al Qaeda linked insurgents and nine tribesmen were killed in the battle (Reuters is reporting fifty five al Qaeda killed).  Four Iraqi civilians were evacuated to Camp Taqqadum for medical treatment for inujuries sustained during this battle.

Yesterday, November 26, two more Marines were lost in combat operations in the Anbar Province in a reminder of how dangerous the province is for U.S. troops.  Also in Ramadi, Coalition Forces conducted a precision strike on insurgent forces after observing three men loading weapons from a known cache site into a vehicle in central Ramadi.  After establishing positive identification, Coalition Forces fired precision ordnance at the vehicle, killing two terrorists. One terrorist was seen fleeing from the scene.

Directly to the east in the Diyala Province, Iraqi forces battled Sunni insurgents in its capital, Baquba.  At least 47 Sunni Arab insurgents were killed Saturday during long gunbattles with Iraqi security forces, a police spokesman in Baquba said.

In the largest and deadliest fight, scores of insurgents, using assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, laid siege to several government buildings in the center of the city, according to the spokesman. At least 36 of the Sunni Arab insurgents were killed in that clash, which raged for about four hours, according to the official, who said he did not yet know if any Iraqi security forces had been wounded.

Gunbattles also broke out in Buhruz, a predominantly Sunni village just south of Baqouba, when gunmen assaulted the main police station from three directions using mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles, the police spokesman in Baqouba reported.

After nightfall, clashes broke out between gunmen and Iraqi army troops in the Al Tahrir neighborhood in Baqouba, according to the police spokesman there. At least 11 insurgents were killed in the fighting, he said.

Diyala has been an increasingly bloody battleground between Sunni and Shiite death squads vying for sectarian domination. Shiite militiamen have recently mobilized there in large numbers in defense of its Shiite inhabitants against the Sunni Arab-led insurgency, which has long made the province a redoubt in its campaign to topple the Iraqi government and drive American forces out of the country. American officials have accused the province’s police and military forces of siding with the Shiite militias.

I have discussed the feeling among U.S. troops that they are hamstrung by the rules of engagement, which have tightened in recent months.  If patrols conducted by U.S. forces makes them vulnerable to sniper attacks and the ROE prohibits their response, the only option left to bring security to Iraq is to let the tribal elements, police and Iraqi security forces battle it out with al Qaeda and the Mehdi army, with both al Qaeda and the Shi’ite militia having infiltrated the police and army.

So the strategy is to minimize casualties and train the Iraqis.  Somehow, the relationship between this approach and the idea of providing security to conquered nations in the Small Wars Manual does not announce itself.

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