Multi-National Division-Center Public Affairs Office
BAGHDAD – More than 30 targets were hit, Jan. 20, during a nighttime air raid on suspected al-Qaida in Iraq safe havens in Arab Jabour. Thirty-five bombs were dropped, with a total weight of 19,000 pounds.
Col. Ferrell, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division commander, said that improvised explosive devices and weapons caches were targeted in order to reduce AQI resources in the area.
"The strikes that we conducted tonight were focused on IEDs and caches that we have targeted, that will allow us to get our ground troops further into the zone," Ferrell said. "These targets, the IEDs specifically, are designed as part of the defensive belt to prevent our forces from entering into areas that we have not been before."
The joint operation involved precision air strikes by F-18 fighter jets and B-1 bombers, including Air Force, Navy and Marine aircraft. The Air Force and Soldiers of the 2nd BCT, 3rd Inf. Div. worked in careful coordination to prevent collateral damage and to prevent use of any area for attacks on coalition forces.
The raid follows Jan. 10 and Jan. 16 air strikes in the same region. Including today's strike, a combined total of 99 targets has been hit, with a total weight of 99,000 pounds of bombs.
Ferrell said the intent of the strikes is to reduce the threat to Soldiers and rid the area of AQI, establishing security in the community.
"We're working to establish the opportunity for the Iraqis in southern Arab Jabour ... not to be under the veil and the fear of (AQI) ... They need to know they can come out," Ferrell said. "As we go now to areas that we have not gone before, we need to do these strikes to reduce the risks to our Soldiers. So, as we enter in to establish their programs, to work with them to get their governance up and running, to work with them on the concerned citizens programs, we've got to allow a path to allow that to happen and that's what these strikes are allowing us to do."
The raid was in support of Operation Phantom Phoenix, the overarching operation that Marne Thunderbolt falls under. Marne Thunderbolt is focused on pursuing the enemy and flushing out remaining extremists operating in southern Arab Jabour.