Operation Restoring Rights
August 26, 2005 - ?
Operation Restoring Rights, launched on August 26, 2005, was a massive military push to engage and destroy the heavy insurgent contingent operating in the northern city of Tall Afar, located 30 miles west of Mosul.
Tall Afar, a dense urban terrain, is positioned along routes that lead from Mosul into Syria. It also holds strategic importance as a point of access to sources of external support in Syria as well as a base for training, organizing, and equipping insurgent forces. According to a military spokesman, the influence of terrorists in the region had become so strong that local governments requested Coalition support to create safe conditions for approaching elections.
The operation was carried out by approximately 5,000 soldiers from the 3rd Division of the Iraqi Security Force in conjunction with 3,500 troops from the U.S. Army's 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment.
The U.S. military had been present in the area since May 1, conducting aggressive offensive and reconnaissance operations. However, members of the insurgency had continued to instill fear and coerce the local population. Insurgents employed harassment tactics such as improvised explosive devises, roadside bombs, mortar attacks, sniper fire and hit-and-run operations against the Coalition forces. Iraqi and U.S. troops responded with ground and air coordinated attacks and the use of local intelligence to round up suspected terrorists.
Army Col. H.R. McMasters stated that the heaviest fighting occurred between September 2 and 6. During this time IEDs were destroyed using attack helicopter fire and detonation by engineers. U.S. tanks supported by Iraqi infantry penetrated the insurgent defenses in the city attacking leadership targets while coming under fire from rocket-propelled grenades and machine gun fire. In this assault, the insurgents took heavy losses, 118 dead and 137 captured, before being driven out of the city. By September 13, the operation had been responsible for the deaths of numerous suspected terrorists and the detainment of 341 individuals. In addition, 22 weapons caches were uncovered, including mortar systems.
Col. McMasters claimed that the operation also included the capture of many associates of Zarqawi. Examination of the western part of the city revealed that certain buildings had been rigged for destruction upon the entrance of coalition troops. One building contained barrels of chemicals that were intended to explode. After reconnaissance detected the threat, the area was cleared and the building was demolished.
Operation Restoring Rights continued through October, with raids along the border between Iraq and Syria. During a 5-day-period in mid-October, more than 10,000 pounds of explosives were uncovered and destroyed.