96 Insurgents Believed Killed in Samarra Assault

96 Insurgents Believed Killed in U.S. Assault on Iraqi City [RSS] (NYT)

More than 4,000 American and Iraqi soldiers mounted a military assault on this insurgent-held city here Thursday night, in what appeared to be the first major operation to retake areas from guerrillas before the January elections. An American soldier from the First Infantry Division was killed, the military said in a statement today. . . . In a later statement, the military said that members of 36th Iraqi Commando Battalion secured the historic Golden Mosque, a sacred Shiite shrine, to safeguard it from insurgents. They also captured 25 rebels the mosque with weapons, the military said.

Four battalions of American troops from the First Infantry Division, backed by two battalions of Iraqi soldiers, began moving toward the city this evening under cover of heavy fire. As midnight passed, the bang of exploding shells could be heard nearly two miles outside the city limits. A statement released by the American military early today said that American and Iraqi forces had succeeded in entering the city and securing government and police buildings. The statement said the forces were acting “in response to repeated and unprovoked attacks by anti-Iraqi forces.” “Unimpeded access throughout the city for Iraqi security forces and multinational forces is non-negotiable,” the statement said. American officers said they were acting at the direct request of Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.

This city of 214,000 people, about 60 miles north of Baghdad, fell to the insurgents over the summer, one of a number of areas in the Sunni triangle north and west of Baghdad where the Americans and the Iraqi government have ceded control in recent months. As the operation got under way, American commanders said they aimed to take the city away from the insurgents and hold onto it. “We are going to go in there and quiet it down,” one American officer as his unit got ready to move. The fighting follows several recent attempts to reassert control over the city through peaceful means. As recently as Tuesday, a large group of insurgents drove through the city in a convoy of about 20 trucks, some of them waving the banner of One God and Jihad, the battle flag of the Jordanian militant Abu Musab Al Zarqawi.

The operation mounted Thursday appeared to be the first directed at retaking the areas in advance of nationwide elections set for January. Iraqi and American officials have said they intend to reassert control over all of the areas that have slipped from their control, so that voting will be open to nearly all Iraqi voters.

Interesting. And about time.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. 1MaNLan says:

    The Americans have always been able to reassert control “locally”, especially if willing to cause civilian casualties (the bombs may be smart, but the shrapnel is not, as it flies, molten hot, in all directions to any innocent man, woman or child in the blast radius.)However, they have never been able to be in all places at once. They will have to leave and the Iraqi National Guard are few in number, may well be Kurds or other ethnic group willing to fight rivals in Samarra (which opens yet another can of worms) and of dubious loyalty to the almost universally despised Americans. Sorry, this effort is just another plot twist. Another campaign marketing trick and another desperate, “hope it helps”, military intervention. This may not be Vietnam, but we are sure riding the tiger again.

  2. paladin says:

    I agree with you, James — it’s about damned time. However, the downside of an operation like this appeared on WaPo’s (online) article, when at the bottom of the intro to the the article, they stated: “Dozens of children killed in attacks.” The terrorists know that an attack like this will kill some innocents and they can count on the press to point out that not all of those killed were “insurgents”. It’s really tough to wage war in the television era. I do believe this is what caused the military (on orders from civilian command) to pull back from Fallujah. What to do?

  3. Anjin-San says:

    96 Insurgents Believed Killed in Samarra Assault:

    Does this remind anyone besides me of Vietnam era body counts?

    I wonder how many perfectly innocent Iraqi citizens were killed…

  4. Attila Girl says:

    The “insurgents” also kill children, and every city they control is a breeding ground for terrorists.

  5. Todd says:

    1MaNLan, Huh? Is that an assignment for a creative writing class?

    Anjin-San, “Does this remind anyone besides me of Vietnam era body counts?”

    No.

  6. Anjin-San says:

    Attila… how exactly do you define a “terrorist”? We invaded a country that had not attacked us. How many civilians were blow to bits during “shock & awe”?

    If I was a 20 year old man in Iraq who had lost a relative to US bombs I think I would be ready to fight to expel a foreign occupation.

    How many men in Iraq have seen US forces pointing M-16s at their wife & children as they work to “liberate” them? If anyone pointed a gun at my wife you can bet I would be cleaning my shotgun tonight.

    Perhaps you are not old enough to remember Vietnam. Those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to relive it….