UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Defense Department Report, November 14: Iraq Update

14 November 2005

United States did not use illegal phosphorous weapons against Fallujah citizens


A spokesman for the multinational forces in Iraq says that coalition and Iraqi security forces will do all that is necessary to stop al-Qaida in Iraq and the efforts by terrorists to hamper progress there.

U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Donald Alston told reporters in Baghdad November 13 that recent successful efforts to target al-Qaida’s leadership in Iraq have hampered the organization’s ability to smuggle the foreign terrorists needed to intimidate civilians in the Euphrates River Valley.  In addition to degrading its leadership network and limiting its ability to smuggle in foreign fighters from Syria, he also said the incoming flow of money and equipment has been reduced.

“We will do everything it takes to stop al-Qaida and Iraq[i] terrorists,” Alston said in an operational update that focused primarily on the week-old “Operation Steel Curtain.”  He said the objective of that operation is to help “restore Iraqi sovereign control along the Iraq-Syria border and destroy the al-Qaida in Iraq terrorists operating throughout the al-Qaim region.”  (See related article.)

Alston said two Iraqi cities, Husaybah and Karabilah, have been secured from insurgents and permanent residents are returning there.  Immediate humanitarian assistance cash payments were extended to those whose homes were damaged or occupied in the Husaybah operation, he said.  He also said the operation has resulted in the destruction of 33 weapons caches and nearly 80 mines or improvised bombs.  Some of the bombs were found buried in the dirt and, in one case, a residence was rigged with explosives.

“We continue to have success capturing and taking apart the al-Qaida in Iraq network,” Alston said.  With the efforts of the operations in the Euphrates River Valley and those in and around the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, the briefing official said terrorist Abu Musab Zarqawi has been unable to generate the same number of attacks as in May.

Asked why he thought the Iraq-Syrian border was becoming more secure, Alston pointed to the construction of Iraqi border forts.  “Forts and outposts are being built to sustain the Iraqi security forces in those areas,” he said.  Such a presence, he said, “will provide stability and reduce terrorist influence in the al-Qaim region.”

The Iraqi security forces also have grown stronger and more confident with added numbers, training and equipment, according to Alston.  Iraq’s security force now numbers 211,000, he said, and the Iraqi government has taken delivery of 77 recently refurbished former T-72 tanks and three-dozen armored personnel carriers.  He described the delivery from Hungary as “a very exciting development” for Iraq.

Various Iraqi ministries are working to overcome existing shortfalls in personnel and logistics, Alston said.  Work still needs to be done, he added, on spare parts resupply, moving vehicles into security zones and on sustaining high levels of readiness across long distances.

A U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) news release says “Operation Steel Curtain” is part of a larger effort called “Operation Hunter” that seeks to establish a permanent Iraqi Army presence in the al-Qaim region.

A November 14 CENTCOM release quoted Major Brandon Robbins as saying security conditions “are being set for the national elections” in Iraq on December 15.


Asked about recurring media allegations that U.S. military forces used phosphorus weapons in Fallujah, Iraq, Alston said those reports already have been discounted by the Iraqi Ministry of Health.

“We have not changed our position that, in fact, we did not use white phosphorous against civilians in Fallujah during ‘Operation al-Fajr,’ the spokesman said.

Iraqi government officials have “responded to these accusations and rejected claims that illegal weapons were used in Fallujah” in November 2004, Alston said, “And, of course, that was the coalition and the American position and continues to be.”

For more information about U.S. policy see Iraq Update.

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list