In a good start to labor day, the military has captured three Al Qaeda high-value targets, and 200 more operatives in Iraq today. This is a great kick-off to the new campaign in the north as they mop up the remaining dregs of Al Qaeda in Iraq. Story from Reuters:
The operation had also netted multiple weapons caches that included more than a tonne of various explosives, hundreds of artillery rounds and rockets, the statement added.
“The combined operations of Iraqi Security Forces and U.S. Army brigades in our four provinces in Northern Iraq have been nothing short of phenomenal,” said U.S. Major-General Mark Hertling, a senior military commander in Iraq.
Even though our forces have had major success the past two months with string after string of victories, it’s no time to rest on laurels as this campaign proves. There are still some hard core remnants that must be pursued to demolition. The targetted assassinations and coordinated twin car bombings recently prove that some hard-core cells still remain after the main Al Qaeda retreat out of Iraq. Where did they retreat to?
As I’ve been saying since June I think most of their forces have retreated across Iran into Pakistan; and judging from the increased fighting and effectiveness of Al Qaeda in Somalia it could be that some went there.
Meanwhile, the number of arms captured from Iran is rising, not falling. They play with fire here, because there are insurgent groups within Iran — if Iran continues to exfiltrate arms and Quds force Operatives to all neighboring countries, then there in nothing that precludes their neighbors from doing the same to them. This year has seen Quds forces and arms in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Lebanon, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. (there are rumors but no confirmation of arms sent to Turkey as well.) More at Reuters, and please see this instructional debate at Memri for more background on Iranian aspirations.
By continually destabilizing their neighbors they have become the crisis in the region, not Iraq.