Summer will be sweeps month for towns between Baghdad and Syria
Coalition forces will stage a chain of offensives this summer up and down the Euphrates River valley that leads to the Syrian border, much like the two operations this month targeting guerrillas and their smuggling of foreign fighters into Iraq, a top U.S. battlefield commander said Friday.The man seems to know what his mission is. The sweeps over a period of time, keep the enemy from establishing a base. They disrupt and inconvience the enemy to the point where he will make mistakes as he stays on the run, and some will be caught in the sweep.
"There will be more operations based on intelligence," said Col. Stephen Davis, commander of Marine Regimental Combat Team-2, who oversees a vast swath of Iraq's western Anbar province.
Operation Matador, a sweep launched earlier this month along the Euphrates, revealed that insurgents were far more organized than expected in the area, and that several small towns once considered safe still harbored large numbers of insurgents. Though Marines reported killing scores of insurgents, they acknowledged that many others disappeared in the broken terrain along the Iraq-Syria border.
The summer campaigns will step up the involvement of Iraqi security forces, whose modest numbers in the region will be increased, Davis said.
The summer offensives would continue to target "midlevel" players in the guerrilla infrastructure, such as the people who facilitate attacks and plant explosives that target U.S. troops, Davis said.
In a sign of progress against that apparatus, coalition forces on Thursday found in a Haditha school their largest cache of enemy mortars since the regimental combat team took over the region in February: more than 300 82 mm mortars, commanders said.
Anbar residents have shown "great cooperation," even using a telephone tip line and helping Marines identify midlevel organizers, Davis said.
"It's one of the last pieces to fit into the big picture," he said. "As insurgents can't find areas to the south, north and east, they come out to the west, and our job is to interdict them and to kill them."