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New phase of 'Steel Curtain' continues in Ubaydi

AR RAMADI, Iraq (Army News Service, Nov. 15, 2005) – Iraqi and U.S. Soldiers, together with Marines in Regimental Combat Team–2, began a new phase of “Operation Steel Curtain” Nov. 14 by entering the town of Ubaydi, located on the banks of the Euphrates River about 20 kilometers from the Syrian border.

Many of the terrorists who are now fighting in Ubaydi are suspected to have fled from Husaybah and Karabilah, the first two cities that were secured by Iraqi and Coalition Forces at the beginning of the operation last week, officials said.

Part of Ubaydi was cleared by Iraqi and Coalition forces Nov. 14. The section of the city known as Old Ubaydi has been cleared and now the Iraqi Army and Coalition forces are focusing on clearing the al-Qaeda in Iraq stronghold of New Ubaydi.

Resistance sporadic, but heavy

While the fighting has been sporadic, it has been characterized by commanders on the ground as some of the heaviest since Operation Steel Curtain began Nov. 5. Intelligence reports indicate that the strong resistance to the Iraqi and Coalition push into the city is due in large part to the fact that terrorists believe they are trapped and have nowhere else to go.

An estimated 80 terrorists have been killed since Iraqi and Coalition forces entered the city Monday morning. Most of those terrorists were targeted by Coalition air strikes, although some were killed in direct small-arms engagements on the ground, officials said.

36 caches found so far

Iraqi and Coalition forces continue to clear the city house-by-house, occasionally encountering buildings that are rigged with explosives and triggered to detonate upon entering. Numerous weapons caches have also been seized, to include several that contained suicide vests and bomb-making material. Overall, there have been 36 weapons caches found and destroyed during Operation Steel Curtain.

Iraqi and Coalition Forces have also discovered numerous improvised explosive devices and mines during the operation, the vast majority of which were destroyed by Coalition forces before they could inflict any damage, officials said.

The precise locations of many IEDs were revealed by detained terrorists, officials said. They said a total of 107 IEDs and mines have been discovered during the course of Operation Steel Curtain.

Insurgents try to sneek out with sheep

Several detainees were captured trying to sneak out of the area by crawling among a flock of sheep. Overall, there have been about 150 terrorists detained since Operation Steel Curtain began 10 days ago.

M-1 tank destroys car bomb

As Iraqi forces entered Ubaydi Monday, a suspected car bomb blocked their advance. The car was engaged with a round from an M1A1 tank. The blast from the tank initiated a secondary explosion powerful enough to throw the car onto the roof of a nearby building.

Iraqi Forces also discovered an active minefield southeast of Husaybah which they are working to reduce for the safety of the local citizens.

Steel Curtain part of larger operation

About 1,000 Iraqi soldiers and 2,500 U.S. Marines, Soldiers and Sailors are participating in Operation Steel Curtain.
The offensive is part of the larger Operation Sayaid (Hunter), officials said, designed to prevent al Qaeda in Iraq from operating in the Euphrates River Valley and surrounding area.

“The objective of Operation Steel Curtain was to restore security along the Iraqi-Syrian border and support the Coalition’s efforts along the Euphrates River Valley,” said Maj. Brandon Robbins, operations officer, Multi-National Corps–Iraq.

“Ultimately our intent is to assist the ISF in establishing a permanent presence on the border and to set the conditions for a safe and secure national election Dec. 15,” Robbins said.

Knockout in Baqubah, Wolf Stalk 2 up north

Other significant operations conducted this week include Operation Knockout in Baqubah where Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior forces detained 370 suspected terrorists.

In the northwestern region of Iraq, Operation Wolf Stalk 2 continues to disrupt terrorists’ ability to carry out attacks in western Ninevah, while reconnaissance operations in northwestern Ninevah are identifying the needs of local residents and supporting legitimate economic and civic ventures.

“Several operations are out in sector to identify locations where CF and the Iraqi Transitional Government can focus on future stability and reconstruction efforts,” Robbins said.

In Baghdad, Operation National Unity, which began this summer, is dedicated to increasing the capability of the Iraqi security forces to control the security environment and decreasing the number of vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices in the city.

Operation Open Window, in the central south region of Iraq, continues to pave the way of handing responsibility of the area to the 8th Iraqi Division.

“The way ahead is clearer,” Robbins said. “Senior leaders of MNC-I have integrated with Iraqi Ground Forces Command and continue to look forward to those critical points where ISF will sustain themselves and take over battle space responsibilities to keep up tactical and operational momentum.”

(Editor's note: Information taken from three news releases by the U.S. Central Command.)

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