As the new Iraq Security Plan (commonly know as "the Surge") began being implemented at the end of 2006, many al Qaida who were in Baghdad bugged out of town. They retreated to "the belts" around Baghdad but mostly to Diyala Province. The US watched them go and followed with enough forces to clear some neighborhoods and gather intelligence for what was being planned as a major operation in the Province once all of the "surge" troops were in-country. Back in March it was reported
The U.S. military has developed battle plans designed to clear al-Qaeda out of Iraq.
High level military intelligence sources have told CBN News the offensive would target the Iraqi province of Diyala.
The province is located just northeast of Baghdad, along the Iranian border....
"If you want to diminish the amount of car bombers and suicide bombers, you have to take the fight right to the source. And in this case, the source is Diyala," said CBN News consultant Daveed Gartenstein-Ross.
Gartenstein-Ross says the Diyala offensive will be even bigger than the major U.S. operation in Fallujah back in 2004-which cleared out a city that had been a major insurgent stronghold.
Unlike previous operations in Diyala, this one is massive in size and scope
This is a division sized operation of "approximately 10,000 Soldiers, with a full complement of attack helicopters, close air support, Strykers and Bradley Fighting Vehicles." Over 30 al Qaeda operatives have been killed since the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division kicked off the operation with a "quick-strike nighttime air assault."
Elements of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, and the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, are operating in Baqubah, along with the 2nd Brigade of the 5th Iraqi Army Division. American forces are in the lead of the assault, with the Iraqi Army in support. The 2-5 Iraqi Army Brigade killed four al Qaeda after receiving sniper fire, and captured 2 others.
The New York Times, which incorrectly reported the operation as consisting of 2,000 U.S. troops, reported that the western portion of the city of Baqubah has been sealed off with ground and air units as troops pursue the 300 to 500 Qaeda believed to be operating in the area.
Baqubah is surrounded by our forces and there is sharp fighting. Apaches firing occasionally, artillery, air strikes and some loud rockets that flew in all the way from Fallujah. Casualties on both sides, but looks like first day is going well. I was present when LTC Fred Johnson informed Iraqi officials that the city is surrounded. LTC Johnson was forthright about the attacks unfolding. There was gunfire just outside during the first meetings. The biggest part of the plan is to trap and kill as many al Qaeda as possible, and to eventually leave the city completely in Iraqi hands. The Iraqi leaders I have seen are thankful and are taking part. Their biggest complaint was that the attack started just as students are trying to take their National Exams. So, early today there was a large gathering of students who wanted to take the exams, but the schools are closed. Bad news is that this is the latest serious disruption to Iraqi lives, but I do find it heartening that the biggest complaint is about the National Exams. It's hard not to respect people who see helicopters shooting rockets, and who are hearing the explosions from the shells and rockets, yet they are thinking about exams.
This is a serious battle, and much more important that the news is making out. My guess is that most media have little idea of the consequences or magnitude of the Battle for Baqubah, and so it's slipping by.
...today, based on what I know first hand about this war, I respectfully disagree with Joe and the crowd of people who share his view that this war cannot be won. On this one point, because I just happen to be a person who has seen this doctor operate on a part of this patient, and I was able to see first hand that the work he did in 2003/4 is still holding today, I think we don’t call the code unless and until Petraeus says so.
In the short time since Petraeus took charge here, Anbar Province – “Anbar the Impossible” – seems to have made a remarkable turnaround. I just spent about a month out there and saw no combat. I have never gone that long in Iraq without seeing combat. Clearly, some areas of Anbar remain dangerous—there is fighting in Fallujah today—but there is also something in Anbar today that hasn’t been seen in recent memory: possibilities. There are also larger realities lurking up on the Turkish borders, but the reality today is that the patient called Iraq will die and become a home for Al Qaeda if we leave now.
But now the AQ cancer is spreading into Diyala Province, straight along the Diyala River into Baghdad and other places. “Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia” (AQM) apparently now a subgroup of ISI (the Islamic State of Iraq), has staked Baquba as the capital of their Caliphate. Whatever the nom de jour of their nom de guerre, Baquba has been claimed for their capital.
And now their capital is under attack by the most awesome military force in the world.