News: Operation Steel Curtain Begins
CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, AR RAMADI, Iraq -- Approximately 2,500 Marines, Sailors and Soldiers with Regimental Combat Team-2 and 1,000 Iraqi Army soldiers began Operation Al Hajip Elfulathi (Steel Curtain) in western Al Anbar today.
The objectives of Operation Steel Curtain is to restore security along the Iraqi-Syrian border and destroy the Al Qaeda in Iraq terrorist network operating throughout Husaybah, located on the Iraqi-Syrian border.
The operation follows on the heels of Operations Iron Fist and River Gate. During Operation Steel Curtain, elements of the 1st Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division and specially trained scout platoons recruited from the Al Qa"im region will take part in this operation.
Since early summer, the combat capabilities of the Iraqi forces have grown in Al Anbar province. Iraqi Security Forces now include almost two full infantry divisions of Iraqi Army soldiers. During the past six months, two division headquarters have formed in the province, four brigade headquarters and ten infantry battalions have deployed to the Al Anbar to join the fight against al Qaeda in Iraq led insurgency. Operation Steel Curtain marks the first large-scale employment of multiple battalion-sized units of Iraqi Army forces in combined operations with Coalition Forces in the last year.
Al Qaeda in Iraq terrorists have used the region's porous borders to smuggle foreign fighters, money and equipment into the country to be used in their ongoing insurgency against the Iraqi people and Coalition Forces. Insurgents continue to influence the local population of Husaybah through murder and intimidation and have vowed to prevent the citizens of Western Al Anbar Province from participating in the democratic process.
The offensive is part of Operation Sayaid (Hunter) designed to deny AQI the ability to operate in the Euphrates River Valley and to establish a joint permanent security presence along the Syrian border. By eliminating terrorist influence in and around Husaybah, Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces are providing a safe and secure environment for the Iraqi people in that region to vote in the upcoming Dec. 15 national elections.