Thursday, March 16, 2006

'Operation Swarmer' Largest Air Assault Since Invasion

From Reuters:
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The U.S. military said on Thursday it had launched its biggest air offensive in Iraq since the 2003 invasion.

A military statement said the operation involving more than 50 aircraft and 1,500 Iraqi and U.S. troops as well as 200 tactical vehicles targeted suspected insurgents operating near the town of Samarra, 100 km (60 miles) north of Baghdad.
Samarra is the site of the al-Askariya shrine. The bombing of the shrine touched off a mix of sectarian violence and terrorist activity designed to promote sectarian strife.

Via Stop the ACLU.

IKRIT, Iraq – Iraqi Security Forces and their Coalition partners launched the largest air assault operation since Operation Iraqi Freedom I today in southern Salah Ad Din province to clear a suspected insurgent operating area northeast of Samarra.

Operation Swarmer began this morning with soldiers from the Iraqi Army’s 1st Brigade, 4th Division, the 101st Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team and the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade conducting a combined air and ground assault to isolate the objective area.

Attack and assault aircraft provided aerial weapons support for the operation and also delivered troops from the Iraq Army’s 4th Division, the Rakkasans from 1st and 3rd Battalions, 187th Infantry Regiment and the Hunters from 2nd Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment to multiple objectives. Forces from the 2nd Commando Brigade then completed a ground infiltration to secure numerous structures in the area.

More than 1,500 Iraqi and Coalition troops, over 200 tactical vehicles, and more than 50 aircraft participated in the operation.

Initial reports from the objective area indicate that a number of enemy weapons caches have been captured, containing artillery shells, explosives, IED-making materials, and military uniforms.

The operation is expected to continue for several days as a thorough search of the objective area is conducted.

Operation Swarmer follows closely the completion of a combined Iraqi – Coalition operation west of Samarra in early March that yielded substantial enemy weapons and equipment caches.