June 21, 2007

Baqubah Day 2: No One's Dropping Leaflets

Michael Yon continues his reporting from the front on the new massive operation to trap and kill al-Qaeda in Diyala. Despite the heat and the good fighting form of the enemy, which Yon estimates as better than most in Iraq, the US has systematically trapped them in the area -- and aren't offering any surrender deals:

The combat has only just begun, and media has now figured out this is serious business. During the morning brief (June 20th), Major Robbie Parke mentioned that CNN, TIME, Reuters and some others, are trying to get out here now. Problem is space. Looks like Gordon and I are mostly alone for now. Others are said to be in Baqubah, but if they are here, they are missing some of the most important parts, and if they were at the important commander’s meetings, I would have seen them.

The heat is intense for the enemy and for us. Soldiers, during any chance, would lay-down during the heat of day, and in complete body armor and helmets, fall asleep in the dirt. I took photos of course. Our guys are tough. The enemy in Baqubah is as good as any in Iraq, and better than most. That’s saying a lot. But our guys have been systematically trapping them, and have foiled some big traps set for our guys. I don’t want to say much more about that, but our guys are seriously outsmarting them. Big fights are ahead and we will take serious losses probably, but al Qaeda, unless they find a way to escape, are about to be slaughtered. Nobody is dropping leaflets asking them to surrender. Our guys want to kill them, and that’s the plan.

This isn't a hearts-and-minds operation, obviously. AQI forces have little desire for peaceful coexistence. The Iraqis have learned this, though, and Yon reports that the US forces have received some very good intel from people happy to be rid of AQI in their neighborhoods.

Yon also reports that the fighting is very intense. The US intends on wiping out AQI in Diyala, and have cut off avenues of escape in a more effective manner than in previous operations. He estimates that civilian casualties have occurred, although no one really knows the extent. They don't have numbers because the battle is too hot to get a good count, but they did confirm 30 AQI dead the first day, while our forces took one casualty and five wounded.

We'll keep an eye on Michael's reporting from the front. In the meantime, follow the link and donate a few dollars to keep Michael funded for his independent efforts to keep us informed.

UPDATE: The Washington Post has more on Day 2:

"We have found three warehouses and factories where car bombs cars were built, as well as large stashes of TNT and mortar rounds used to make" roadside bombs, said Mohammed al-Askari, an Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesman. "We also found the swords that they used to slaughter people in their so-called courts, in addition to sniper rifles and silencers." ...

The U.S. military has been sharply criticized -- particularly from within its own ranks -- for earlier offensives against al-Qaeda in Iraq and other Sunni insurgents that allowed them to slip away and regroup in other areas. As soon as U.S. forces withdrew, the insurgents typically returned.

This time, military planners are trying to avoid that outcome by drawing a tight ring around Baqubah that locks insurgents inside, where they can be captured or killed. The challenge was illustrated Tuesday by the capture of six uninjured men who were trying to escape from Baqubah in an Iraqi ambulance, the U.S. military said in a statement.

Commanders "said we need to cordon off the city and control access in and out, which is what we did yesterday morning, and now we are very deliberately doing house-to-house clearing," said Capt. Jon Korneliussen, a U.S. military spokesman. "Many houses were wired with explosives."

This American success story (at least thus far) appears on page A18 in today's paper. Where do you think they will run the story if the ratio of enemy deaths slips significantly lower than 41:1?


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But we don't get reports like this one from the mainstream media -- you have to go to Michael Yon's website instead for the real cutting-edge journalism about Operation Arrowhead Ripper. Our guys are tough. The enemy in Baqubah is... [Read More]

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Both Bill Roggio and Michael Yon have filed reports on the first day's fighting in the Diyala provincial capital of Baqubah. Roggio provides the overview of this and other operations in the belts surrounding Baghdad, while Yon gives the street-level [Read More]

Comments (17)

Posted by Tom Shipley | June 21, 2007 6:57 AM

This American success story (at least thus far) appears on page A18 in today's paper.

Ed, where was the story in yesterday's WaPo? I didn't see it, but on it was the top story on washingtonpost.com. I'm guessing it was a front-page story yesterday, today moved to the first page of the "World" section, which would not be unusual for what is essentially a continuation of an ongoing campaign.

I didn't mention anything yesterday, but you twice insinuated that American papers weren't covering this. Well, when I read that I went to the WaPo and NYTimes Web pages and both had this story #1. CNN.com also had a story on it (though it wasn't the featured one).

I found that a little dishonest of you.

Posted by Roy E | June 21, 2007 7:01 AM

by drawing a tight ring around Baqubah that locks insurgents inside, where they can be captured or killed.

It sounds like they're finally getting it right. finally.

Posted by Tom Shipley | June 21, 2007 7:24 AM

If anyone wants to read really good reporting yesterday's battles and operations and just the general situation in Baquba, here's a story by the Gordon that Yon refer's to (and praises) in his blog entry.


Posted by TomB | June 21, 2007 7:48 AM

One thing bugs me in this reporting: does it mean, that up to now we were allowing AQ to simply escape, if things were too rough for them? Did we learn anything from Bora-Bora at all? Or was it some war strategy created by peace lovers?

Posted by Gary Gross | June 21, 2007 7:57 AM

Gen. John Allen predicts that "We’re going to finish off those neighborhoods by August."

The only reporting thus far on Operation Arrowhead Thunder have been positive. Even the LA Times & USA Today have written positive articles about it.

Posted by RBMN | June 21, 2007 8:23 AM

Re: TomB at June 21, 2007 7:48 AM

Or, it means that part of the recent surge strategy was doing things that made Al Qaeda concentrate themselves in one area--systematically taking away their alternatives--until they could be trapped inside a big US operation that they didn't anticipate the scale of. Our advantage is maybe that they underestimate our determination.

Posted by Nomennovum | June 21, 2007 8:25 AM

Yon: "Nobody is dropping leaflets asking them to surrender. Our guys want to kill them, and that’s the plan."

Good. Good. Good. At last -- good.

Posted by rbj | June 21, 2007 8:46 AM

And Reuters on Yahoo News leads with "Twelve US soldiers killed in Iraq"
My thoughts go out to their families -- but keep the pressure on and keep killing the terrorists.

Posted by Neo | June 21, 2007 9:50 AM

But with stuff like this by the BBC, you have to wonder who the enemy really is.

Posted by TomB | June 21, 2007 9:51 AM

One of the reports from Afghanistan a few months ago was praising a “new tactics” used by the troops. The “new tactics” was that after they’ve been in contact with the Taliban, they were calling for air support and actually chasing and killing them, rather than sitting tight happy, that the bad guys went away. The result was many Taliban killed, but the MSM apparently was not happy with use of the “excessive force”. It seems that similar “innovation” is being tested in Iraq.

Posted by TW | June 21, 2007 10:21 AM

The only report this morning I saw was an AP report written by a guy named Hamid reporting 12 US troops killed without any mention or context that we are in MAJOR offensive operations. Anyone reading that article who is unaware of the offensive will be shaking their head as to how we are loosing in Iraq, which of course was the point of the article. It was pure enemy propaganda written by the enemy intended to demoralize the American people.

Posted by Tom Shipley | June 21, 2007 10:33 AM

without any mention or context that we are in MAJOR offensive operations.

TW, his story does mention and goes on quite a bit about the offensive in Baqubah:

It was the latest in a series of attacks as al-Qaida fights back as the U.S. intensifies operations against the terror network in Baghdad and elsewhere around the capital.

A U.S. airstrike aimed at a booby-trapped house in one of the centers of those offensives, the Diyala provincial capital of Baqouba, missed its target and "accidentally hit" another structure, wounding 11 civilians on Wednesday, the military said, adding the incident was under investigation.

U.S. troops had cleared the area to destroy a house containing explosives believed placed by al-Qaida, but "the bomb missed its intended target and struck another structure," the military said. "Reports indicate that 11 civilians were injured."

The initial target was later destroyed by a Hellfire missile, producing a large secondary explosion, according to the statement.

A spokesman for the 1920s Revolution Brigades, a nationalist Sunni insurgent group that has begun cooperating with U.S. and Iraqi forces in the fight against al-Qaida in Diyala, said an airstrike mistakenly struck a building being used as a headquarters by the group. The spokesman, who declined to be identified due to security concerns, said two members were killed and four were wounded.

Maj. Gen. Abdul Karim al-Rubaie of the Iraqi army said the offensive that began Monday in Diyala was going well and operations were focused on the areas of Jurf al-Milih and the northern part of the Baqouba market, which has been the site of several recent execution-style killings by al-Qaida.

Hospital officials said ambulances were bringing dozens of bodies of militants who have been killed from the western half of the city, which was under a strict curfew.

The latest military report on the Diyala offensive said U.S.-led forces had killed 41 insurgents, discovered five weapons caches and destroyed 25 bombs and five booby-trapped houses.

The U.S. military said it has 10,000 American soldiers in Diyala province, an al-Qaida bastion, a troop strength that matched in size the force that American generals sent against the insurgent-held city of Fallujah 2 1/2 years ago.


Most of the troops killed over the past two days were not part of that operation. I think it was 4 out of 14.

Posted by Immolate | June 21, 2007 11:46 AM

Why is it that we get 10,000 troops in an exercise in western europe and ten of them get run over by trucks and tanks, but we get 10,000 troops in a major firefight with AQ fighters and we only loose four? I think fear of getting shot makes you more aware of large vehicles.

Posted by Casey Tompkins | June 21, 2007 1:49 PM


In the article above, you state

[T]hey did confirm 30 AQI dead the first day, while our forces took one casualty and five wounded.
Apparently you meant one dead, and five wounded, yes?

I wanted to take a moment to point out that casualty means anyone lost for any reason, including personal injury while off-duty. Hence, a casualty may mean a death, a battle-related injury, a pulled hamstring while playing football, an illness, anyone captured, or just missing. This would include deserters, although I don't recall ever hearing of anyone deserting in Iraq.

So (unless I misunderstood your phrasing above) you cited a total of six casualties, including one dead.

This is a not-unusual misuse of the term.

Posted by Captain Ed | June 21, 2007 2:00 PM


You're correct -- you wrote it better than I did. My phrasing is pretty clumsy on that point.

Posted by exDemo | June 21, 2007 2:48 PM

The geneva conventions say that if you ar in uniform and caught fighting other military you cna be improisned as a POW fro the duration of the war.

the Geneva conventions say that if you shed your uniform OR you kill defenseless civilians your life is forfeit and you can be summarilly shot under the approval of the Geneva Conventions..

The Fourth COP led b ysomem judicial left wingnuts say that if you have neither a uniform AND you muirder civilians, why then you must have a trrial , furnishhed with a free lawyer, and if not promptly tried, other wise released, to kill again.

S-T-U-P-I- D-T-Y !!!

The inevitab le cosnequence is: No Leaflets No Prisoners.
A and as the Muslim leader Salahdin said , "Kill them all, and let Allah sort them out".

Posted by Clyde | June 22, 2007 7:35 AM

Re: Al-Qaeda:


No more Gitmos. Dead terrorists don't file appeals in our overlawyered society. No silly "Well, he's an 'enemy combatant' but he's not an 'UNLAWFUL enemy combatant', so you'll have to just let hem go" baloney.

Just kill 'em. Just do it! Swoosh!