Jerusalem – It was reported Thursday that Iraqi and U.S. military forces have nearly completed preparations for a major operation against al-Qaida.
According to Middle East Newsline, which is generally regarded as credible, the Iraq Army and security forces have been amassing troops for an assault against al-Qaida on Aug. 1. Officials said at least 30,000 soldiers would be deployed in the Diyala province.
“This will be an operation meant to decimate the al-Qaida leadership in Diyala,” an Iraqi official said. “If successful, this will have a devastating effect on the al-Qaida presence throughout the country.”
The U.S. and Iraqi military have determined that the al-Qaida leadership, including network commander Aby Ayoub Al Jayousi, was based in Diyala.
“This will be an operation led and conducted by the Iraq Army with the police,” the official said. “The U.S. military will provide intelligence and air support.”
The preparations for the latest offensive have been in the works since at least early in the month. On July 13, Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf announced the operation was being planned but did not say when it would begin. With an announced date pending, it is expected the attack will be against an already weakened opponent.
Earlier this month, three leading al-Qaida-aligned operatives surrendered to Iraqi and U.S. forces, including one linked to a Syrian financier. The al-Qaida commander in Rutbah, near the Jordanian border, was also reported to have surrendered.
“The [Rutbah] suspect is known to facilitate foreign fighters, weapons and narcotics,” a U.S. military official said. “He is said to be well-connected to AQI [al-Qaida in Iraq] networks in various regions and finances criminal groups coming into Iraq. He is also associated with another AQI emir in the area reportedly responsible for executing members of the Iraqi government and Iraqi security forces, smuggling, hijacking and carjacking.”
Al-Qaida forces in Iraq were said to have been receiving aid and safe haven from neighboring Iran and Syria.
With recent successes, officials now report the flow of al- Qaida volunteers from Syria has been reduced from 100 to 20 per month. To continue the erosion of al-Qaida’s strength, the Iraqi and U.S. military have also been targeting the terrorist organization’s financial infrastructure around Baghdad.
In operations on Tuesday and Wednesday, American-led coalition troops detained an alleged al-Qaida financier near Samarra, 110 kilometers north of Baghdad. Another detainee, arrested in Baghdad, was linked to the al-Qaida leadership in Iraq and other countries.
David Bedein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com.
©The Bulletin 2008