Urbin Report

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Meanwhile in Iraq...

From the Department of Defense: Commander Describes Routing Foreign Fighters From Tal Afar.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 16, 2005 -- The commander of coalition troops in Iraq today described "an extremely successful tactical operation" in which U.S. and Iraqi troops all but cleared Tal Afar, Iraq, of foreign fighters.

Tal Afar is one of two major transit zones for foreign fighters coming into Iraq, Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., commander of Multinational Force Iraq, said from Baghdad today. The other route is through the Euphrates River Valley, farther south.

U.S. troops from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and Iraqi forces from the 3rd Iraqi Army Division have been working for two months to plan and prepare for an operation to "restore Iraqi control to Tal Afar," Casey said.
The combined force killed about 150 insurgents and captured roughly 350 more. Casey said officials estimate this accounted for about 75 percent to 80 percent of the foreign fighters and other insurgents they believed were in the city. "It looked like a pretty tough fight," he said.

Strong support from the Iraqi government made the soldiers' mission significantly easier, Casey said. In the days leading up to the military assault, Iraqi government representatives spent time in Tal Afar and brokered an agreement with local leaders from all local ethnic groups: Shiia, Sunni and Turkoman.

"The other piece of this that sometimes gets lost is the Iraqi government was very much involved in setting the conditions for success," he said.

Casey explained that local sheiks signed statements saying basically: "We've had enough. We ask for the military to come in and clean the terrorists and foreign fighters out of Tal Afar."

This led to support for the mission from the city's civilian population. "That had a huge impact on what we had to deal with with respect to the population of that city," Casey said.

Stop by Cox & Forkum for more details.