Operation Steel Curtain
The Coalition task force assigned to clear and hold the western most run of the Euphrates River has had little rest since Operation Steel Curtain began at the beginning of November. The towns of Husaybah, Karabilah, and Ubaydi have been cleared and a permanent Iraqi and U.S. presence has left behind to prevent the return of the foreign fighters and insurgents as well as establish public services for the local residents, in many cases where no services existed.
As the Multinational Forces West press releases clearly states - “Operation Steel Curtain continues” - and the town of Rammanah is now the current focus of this operation. MNF-West describes Rammanah as “a rural, agricultural region with dozens of small villages.” There has been no enemy response to the sweep though the town, and seven al Qaeda terrorists were captured detained after members the local Desert Protector Force provide positive identification.
The parliamentary elections are less than a month away, and Coalition forces are pressing hard on operations along the border. al-Qaeda’s response is predictable, with suicide attacks on two mosques in the Kurdish town of Khanaqin, a town 87 miles northeast of Baghdad, as well as a multiple car bomb attack on a hotel that houses foreign journalists.
As al-Qaeda’s forces are decimated on the Syrian border and along the Euphrates, their need to remain relevant intensifies. But al-Qaeda’s attacks have failed to cause the long desired sectarian Sunni-Shiite-Kurd civil war, derail the political process or halt the elections. Their violence is seen as senseless by many Iraqis, even by many members of the domestic wing of the Iraqi insurgency.