One week after American forces mounted their assault on insurgent strongholds in western Baquba, at least half of the estimated 300 to 500 fighters who were there have escaped or are still at large, the colonel who is leading the attack said Monday.
It’s predictable that the media, which has been kept a safe distance from operations, will report exactly what they have being told to report.
Still, Operation Arrowhead Ripper has thus far had a very successful media run. Little has been discussed beyond the occasional ‘success’. We learn nothing, and they will tell us nothing that doesn’t immediately jar as an obvious propaganda piece. One press-release from the MNF claims that troops have discovered ‘Al Qaeda’ prisons, torture chambers, execution houses. Its claims are broadly reflected in much of the coverage, with some variations and bagatelles. Who knows, it may even contain some truth: whatever combination of groups there are running the area, I daresay they impose some fairly strict discipline, up to and including executions. However, the idea is seriously being offered that the US military are liberating Iraqis from imprisonment, torture and death. Why don’t they simply call it Operation Irony Death?
With little to gain strategically, the purpose of the assault was to send a clear message to those daring to resist the occupation forces.
However, bear in mind the scale of this operation: as in other city-assaults, they have sealed the place off and entered with all guns blazing and bombers tearing up the streets. This is far from over, and if they seriously intend to keep the city under SIIC control, then I would anticipate an escalation. Don’t expect a serious body count or even estimate until some of the humanitarian agencies get a look in there. I don’t think there were many more than a dozen civilian deaths reported by the embedded media in Fallujah during Operation Phantom Fury, (and remember, all non-embedded reporters are being kept out of Baqubah right now), but the first post-bombing estimate was that 800up to 6,000 deaths. It would have been much higher had most of the population not been driven out into the deserts to seek the canvas hospitality of any aid organisation that would provide it. And, as you know, that city has been under forced labour servitude, biometric lockdown, and round-the-clock military rule ever since. They constructed a huge torture regime in Camp Mercury on the outskirts of the city, where 82nd Airborne, describing themselves as Murderous Maniacs, would attack and torture their hostages: they called it “fucking” them.