The surge of operations that American and Iraqi forces began on June 15 has dramatically improved security in Baghdad and throughout Iraq.
A Corps offensive to prevent al Qaeda, Sunni, and Shi’a insurgent elements from reconstituting their forces in Baghdad, its belts, or elsewhere.
The northeastern belt runs from the Tarmiyah area in the Tigris River Valley, east through Khalis and Baqubah and south to Nahrawan east of Baghdad. It controls the road networks that link Baghdad with the eastern shore of the Tigris River Valley, as well the Diyala River Valley and a key border crossing with Iran. Consequently, both al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), Jaysh al-Mahdi, and associated Iranian-backed Special Groups have competed to control the area.
A division-level operation to clear Baqubah and the surrounding areas during Operation Phantom Thunder.
The Iraqi province of Diyala lies to the north of Baghdad. Its shares its eastern border with Iran, its northern border with Kurdistan, and its western border is shaped by the flow of the Tigris River. The Diyala River, a tributary of the Tigris, flows south through Diyala before meeting with the Tigris just south of Baghdad. Diyala's main cities include Baqubah (its capital), Muqdadiyah, Balad Ruz, Khalis, and Khanaqin. The province has a mix of Sunni Arab, Shi'a, and Kurdish residents.
Tribal movements and Sons of Iraq (SoI) groups have been a critical partner for coalition forces in stabilizing Iraq from 2006 onwards.
Iran has been actively involved in supporting Shi'a militias and encouraging sectarian violence in Iraq since the invasion of 2003.
Although one of the smallest factions in the Sunni insurgency, Al-Qaeda in Iraq may be one of the most deadly. US operations have put tremendous pressure on the group.
As part of a series of interviews with Brigade and Division-level commanders in Iraq, I spoke today with MG Benjamin Mixon, commander of Multi-National Division-North and the 25th Infantry Division (Light), about U.S. operations aimed at disrupting and destroying al-Qaeda in northern Iraq during the summer of 2007. You can access the video of the interview below.