A division-level operation to clear the Highway Eight - Euphrates River corridor south of Baghdad during Operation Phantom Thunder.
Operation Phantom Thunder
A division-level operation to clear the areas along the Tigris River southeast of Baghdad during Operation Phantom Thunder.
The southwestern belt runs from Fallujah down the Euphrates River corridor, through Sadr al-Yusufiyah, Yusufiyah, east to Mahmudiyah and south to Iskandariyah.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.