Operation Phantom Thunder

Northwest

The northwestern Baghdad belt, stretching from Karmah west of Baghdad to Tarmiyah in the north, has been a sanctuary for al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) since January 2007, when the capital of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) was displaced from Diyala province to Tarmiyah.

Southwest

The southwestern belt runs from Fallujah down the Euphrates River corridor, through Sadr al-Yusufiyah, Yusufiyah, east to Mahmudiyah and south to Iskandariyah.

Southeast

The southeastern belt wraps around the capital in an arc running from Nahrawan east of Baghdad, south through Jisr Diyala down to Salman Pak, and east through Arab Jabour and Hawr Rajab to the city of Mahmudiyah. Most of the area is rural farmland, crisscrossed by irrigation canals that limit mobility and facilitate the creation of insurgent refuges.

Baghdad Belts

The Baghdad belts are residential, agricultural, and industrial areas that encircle the city, and networks of roadways, rivers, and other lines of communication that lie within a twenty or thirty mile radius of Baghdad and connect the capital to the rest of Iraq. Beginning in the north, the belts include the cities of Taji, clockwise to Tarmiyah, Baqubah, Buhriz, Besmayah and Nahrwan, Salman Pak, Mahmudiyah, Sadr al-Yusufiyah, Fallujah, and Karmah.

Tigris River Valley (وادي نهر دجلة)

The upper Tigris River Valley runs from the northern border of Iraq down directly into the center of Baghdad.  As the Tigris winds its way south to the capital, a number of key Iraqi cities lie along the route; these are Bayji, Tikrit, Samarra, and Balad. A major highway, Main Supply Route Tampa, also runs from the Syrian border, through Mosul, and down along the Tigris River and aforementioned cities into Baghdad.

Northern Iraq

Northern Iraq extends north from Baghdad and is bordered by Syria, Turkey, and Iran. It consists of the provinces of Salah ad-Din, Diyala, Kirkuk, Sulaymaniyah, Arbil, Dahuk, and Ninawa. Iraqi Kurds inhabit the northern area, including Sulaymaniyah, Arbil, and Dahuk. The remainder of the region has a mix of ethnic and sectarian groups.

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