CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, AR RAMADI, Iraq – Operation Matraqa Hadidia (Iron Hammer) has commenced in the Hai Al Becker region of Al Anbar, Iraq, east of the small walled town of Hit. Hit is approximately 170 km from Baghdad.
The town is built on two mounds, the site of the ancient city of Is, on the Euphrates river.
This area is home to bitumen wells used for at least 3,000 years, that were used to build Babylon.
It is a market town for agricultural produce and oil pipelines cross the Euphrates on their way to the Mediterranean Sea.
It is believed that insurgents stop here, as they transit the ‘rat lines’ down the Euphrates River from Syria into the interior of Iraq.
Iraqi Army soldiers and U.S. Marines, Sailors and Soldiers began Operation Iron Hammer here.
The goal of Operation Iron Hammer is to establish a secure environment for the National Elections, scheduled for Dec. 15, by clearing the al-Qaeda in Iraq-led insurgents out of here.
There are a total of 2,500 personnel involved, including approximately 500 2nd Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Division soldiers, 1,500 Marines and Sailors from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and 500 Soldiers from 2nd Battalion-114th Field Artillery Regiment.
It is suspected that al-Qaeda in Iraq uses the Hai Al Becker region as a safe area and base of operations where they manufacture vehicle car bombs, and roadside bombs.
Iron Hammer is not the first operation in this area. Operation Saif (Sword) was conducted in early July. At that time, Iraqi and U.S. Forces established a long-term security presence in Hit. During Saif, not many insurgents were located, but about twenty weapons caches were discovered in the region.
The eastern side of the Euphrates River is an area not typically patrolled by Iraqi and U.S. Forces.