Although the recent unrest and insurgent fighting has been predominantly in the Baghdad area and south, the Mosul area in northern Iraq hasn’t been quiet.
In the Mosul attacks over the Easter weekend, Piek said insurgents broke up otherwise peaceful demonstrations Friday at Mosul city hall by opening fire with RPGs and assault rifles. Independent news sources including the Reuters News Agency, which has a team of Iraqi reporters in Mosul, said the demonstrations have been in support of the uprising in the south.
“Stryker Brigade soldiers killed three of the shooters before the demonstration dispersed,” [Task Force Olympia spokesman Lt. Col. Joseph] Piek said by e-mail.
In another attack, a Stryker patrol came under RPG fire from men in a truck. The incident occurred in the Al Thubat district of Mosul, just east of the Tigris River between the two northernmost of the city’s five bridges.
The patrol from the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment returned fire with a TOW anti-tank missile, destroying the truck and killing all 12 men on board.
The Mosul area, though relatively secure, had seen an increase in insurgent activity up until the big uprisings broke out in the south. Since that time, fighting seems to have been more or less back to normal levels, meaning ongoing but light.
There’s continuing speculation that some Stryker units have been dispatched to the Najaf area to join the force assembling to deal with the Darth Sadr issue.
Meantime, Piek declined to comment on published reports that units from the Stryker brigade had been sent south to join the 2,500-soldier force that’s converging on Najaf.
The Los Angeles Times made brief mention Tuesday that “a Stryker brigade from Mosul” was among the units that might be called on to kill or capture Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
Several Army convoys moving south to this base [FOB Duke] — the task force commanded by [Army Col. Dana J.H.] Pittard includes elements of the 1st Infantry Division, 2nd Infantry Division and 25th Infantry Division — were delayed by more than 12 hours by the operations against the bridges, which Pittard called “irritating” but not a major problem.
As far as I know, the only 2nd Division units in Iraq are Stryker Brigade units. If Darth Sadr’s peace proposal isn’t good enough, or if he doesn’t stick to it, our forces will have to go into Najaf in force. I don’t imagine that Strykers will lead the way, since there are also tanks and Bradleys known to be in the area, but we’ll probably get to see how the new LAVs perform in heavier urban action before this is over.