Iraqi Troops, Police Pressure al Qaeda in Northern Iraq
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sep. 28, 2007 Iraqi soldiers and police have al Qaeda terrorists on the run in the northern city of Mosul and its outlying areas, an Iraqi general posted in the region said today.
Brig. Gen. Moutaa Habeeb Jassim, commander of the 2nd Iraqi Army Division, said his soldiers and local police have “broken the back” of al Qaeda operations in his sector of Ninewah province. Mosul, a city of more than 1.5 million inhabitants, is about 225 miles northwest of Baghdad.
“We still have good control of Mosul, and we still have good opportunity to attack the enemy – and we are,” Jassim emphasized during a conference call with reporters.
The 2nd Division “has good coordination with the coalition forces and Iraqi police,” Jassim said. Although his unit confers with its coalition partners, the general’s troops operate independently of U.S. forces as they continue to press the insurgents.
Iraqi residents are united against al Qaeda, Jassim said, noting that they provide valuable information on insurgent activities to local police and his troops.
And when he quizzes local Iraqis about their feelings of American troops, Jassim said, more than three-quarters say they don’t want the Americans to leave any time soon, because the GIs make them feel more secure.
Such cooperation has put immense pressure on al Qaeda, Jassim pointed out. Recent intelligence indicates the terror group admits it cannot conduct operations in the area without incurring heavy, perhaps unacceptable, losses, the general said.
Jassim said his troops could use more equipment, such as heavier trucks and helicopters that can be employed for air assaults, patrols and medical evacuations.
Coalition plans do call for issuing heavyweight vehicles to Jassim’s forces, said Army Col. Stephen M. Twitty, commander of the 4th Brigade Combat Team and participant in the conference call. Coalition planners also acknowledge that the general’s troops could use some helicopters, as well, the colonel said.
Meanwhile, Jassim and his troops are keeping up the pressure on al Qaeda.
“We are not going to give them any opportunity to do anything,” the general vowed.
The general and his troops are living up to their pledge. Four al Qaeda leaders have been killed or captured in Mosul or its environs over the past four months, Twitty said.
“The Iraqi security forces are truly in the lead here,” Twitty said. “They’re conducting their own, independent operations.”