CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, AR RAMADI, Iraq – Approximately 2,500 Marines, Sailors and Soldiers with Regimental Combat Team-2 and 1,000 Iraqi Army Soldiers began Operation Al Hajip Elfulathi (Steel Curtain) in western Al Anbar Nov. 5.
The operation concluded on November 22, 2005. Stories on all of the almost-daily updates are listed below.
Military sources said the objectives of Operation Steel Curtain are to restore security along the Iraqi-Syrian border and destroy the al Qaeda in Iraq terror network operating throughout Husaybah.
The operation follows on behind the previous Operations Iron Fist and River Gate. Operation Steel Curtain is to be carried out by elements of the 1st Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division and specially trained scout platoons recruited from the Al Qaim region.
Since early summer, the combat capabilities of the Iraqi forces have grown in Al Anbar province. Iraqi security forces now include almost two full infantry divisions of Iraqi Army Soldiers. During the past six months, two division headquarters have formed in the province, four brigade headquarters and ten infantry battalions have deployed to the Al Anbar to join the fight against al Qaeda in Iraq led insurgency. Operation Steel Curtain marks the first large-scale employment of multiple battalion-sized units of Iraqi Army forces in combined operations with Coalition Forces in the last year in al Anbar Province.
The operation began in Husaybah, where al-Qaeda in Iraq often carry out smuggling operations. Some of the poor locals work with US or Iraqi military, but they are often threatened by al-Qaeda. Around dawn, there were a number of loud explosions, due to the actions of U.S. warplanes or helicopters.
Husaybah, near the Euphrates River, is surrounded by hills and desert. Many of the residents, mainly poor Sunnis, already fled the town at the time of the previous military operations.
The U.S. military reported that “Al Qaeda in Iraq terrorists often used the region’s porous borders to smuggle foreign fighters, money and equipment into the country to be used in their ongoing attacks against the Iraqi people and Coalition Forces.”
Terrorists continue to influence the local population of Husaybah through murder and intimidation and say they will prevent Western Al Anbar Province citizens participating in the democratic process.
The offensive is part of Operation Sayaid (Hunter) designed to deny al Qaeda in Iraq the ability to operate in the Euphrates River Valley and to establish a joint permanent security presence along the Syrian border. By eliminating terrorist influence in and around Husaybah, Coalition and Iraqi security forces are providing a safe and secure environment to allow the Iraqi people in that region to vote in the upcoming Dec. 15 national elections.
Additional information concerning the progress of Operation Steel Curtain will be provided as it becomes available.
Source: Multi-National Force-Iraq