I’ve been shirking my blogging duties and haven’t been saying much about the military operations near the Syrian border of Iraq.
Here are some who haven’t dropped the ball:
Winds of Change: Operation Matador in Northern Iraq
A commenter wonders why the insurgents seem to be standing and fighting instead of running:
They were expected not to fight, but to either run for the border or at least out of the paths of the advancing marines (which is why the blocking force was placed at the border, to catch them in the open). They didn’t do this, the question is why? They theoretically could have known about the blocking force, but this seems unlikely and furthermore remaining in place simply invites encirclement. The other more likely explanation is that they are trying to cover someones escape. Zarqawi’s, one would suppose.
Could be. Tons of links.
Donald Sensing: Big operation under way in western Iraq
One effect of Operation Matador may be to fracture the uneasy alliance between Islamists and Baathists. Why? Most of al Qaeda’s fighters in Iraq are foreign to the country while almost all the FREs are native Iraqis. The FREs have the option, distasteful as it is to them, of asking for quarter and deciding to integrate into a free Iraq; I think that when they realize that victory on their terms is impossible they will take that course. But al Qaeda can’t and won’t. At some point, I hope, the FREs may offer to finger al Qaeda personnel and locations in exchange for clemency of some kind.
The director of operations for the joint staff in the Pentagon just said on a news broadcast that the insurgents being fought in Operation Matador are well armed, better trained than any fought before, and well equipped with uniforms and flak vests. This makes them more difficult to defeat, but it may also make them more confident they can prevail. This will be their undoing, for there is no force anywhere in the world that can hope to prevail against the US Army and US Marine Corps in conventional ground combat.
Steven Den Beste (apparently) makes an appearance in the comments section, wondering if the military forces fighting the Marines might be Syrians. Doesn’t seem likely to me.
AKI ADNKronos International: IRAQ: AL-ZARQAWI SERIOUSLY INJURED, SAYS IRAQI OFFICIAL
We can always hope, though I’m not holding my breath on this report.
The Fourth Rail: Foreign Elements
Has a good map.
The Marines are methodically pushing westward, conducting detailed searches in the towns along the Euphrates. The Marines are driving the insurgents and terrorists towards the blocking force of the Marines in the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Regiment in Qaim and the platoon(s) providing over watch along the ridge overlooking Rabit. Col. Bob Chase reports the local population is proving helpful; “We are getting a lot of information from the locals in the area and a very positive reception. They are giving up locations of where these people are hiding out, and each one drives another operation.”
At some point, the tipping point will have been reached. I suspect that we’ve already passed it and just don’t realize it yet.
Belmont Club: Battle on the Syrian Border
Washington Post: War in Iraq looks like last stand for al Qaeda
While this battle may indeed be a last stand for AQ in Iraq, there’s no doubt that the organization will continue to carry on its struggle for a long, long time. This may turn out to be a big blow, but it’s not the end.
There are tons of links at most of those sites. Follow them.
I’ve long criticized our failure to try and seal the Syrian border. I still think we should have tried to do more earlier, but maybe we’ve been working to force them back against the border, then move in and wipe them out. Any who flee into Syria will probably be pursued, either openly or by covert operations.
This isn’t setting up a full-scale invasion of Syria on the pretext of pursuit or support by the Syrian government. We just don’t seem to have the forces in place to even consider that right now.
Short of a full-blown attack on Syria, though, I think just about everything’s on the board at this point.