U.S. Calls Operation Matador a Success

Operation Matador has been a major military and intelligence success, according to the U.S. military.

U.S. Calls Iraq Border Offensive a Success (AP)

The U.S. military wrapped up a major offensive in a remote desert region near the Syrian border Saturday, saying it had cleaned out the insurgent haven and killed more than 125 militants during the weeklong campaign against followers of Iraq’s most wanted terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Nine U.S. Marines were killed and 40 injured during Operation Matador one of the largest American campaigns since militants were driven from Fallujah six months ago. The number of civilian casualties was not immediately known.

American troops, backed by warplanes and helicopter gunships, swept through desert outposts along ancient smuggling routes, believed to be staging areas for foreign fighters who slip over the border and collect weapons to launch deadly attacks in Iraq’s major cities. More than 1,000 Marines, soldiers and sailors participated in the operation, killing more than 125 insurgents, wounding many others and detaining 39 “of intelligence value,” the military said in a statement. It provided no further information about the detainees.

Numerous weapons caches containing machine guns, mortar rounds and rockets were discovered. Six car bombs and material for making other improvised explosive devises were also found, the statement said.

The military said the operation confirmed its intelligence about a region north of the Euphrates River, including the existence of “cave complexes” used by insurgents in the nearby escarpment. It did not elaborate, but said U.S. and Iraqi forces would be back.

It’s not clear from the story what the nature of the intelligence gathered was. Still, the U.S. military is much more effective on the offensive than it is in force protection mode. Going out to engage the enemy directly beats waiting for them to choose the time, place, and manner of the encounter.

(0825) More from BBC: Iraq rebels ‘flushed out by US’

The US has said its forces have cleared an area in north-west Iraq of insurgents following a week-long operation codenamed Matador. The Americans said they had killed more than 125 rebels for the loss of nine of their own men, with 40 wounded . The campaign, involving air strikes and at least 1,000 ground troops, took place close to the border with Syria.

Meanwhile, in the capital Baghdad, a senior foreign ministry official has been shot dead outside his home. The assassination of Jassim al-Muhammadawy, the director-general of administration at the ministry, followed a suicide car bomb attack on a police convoy in the city in which at least four people died.

A bizarre juxtaposition but one that illustrates the nature of this war. Even as our forces are wiping out scores of opposition fighters, their ability to commit acts of murder remains.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.