Thursday, January 10, 2008

Operation Phantom Phoenix: Bombing Iraq

Today the NY Times reported,
American bombers and fighter aircraft dropped 40,000 pounds of bombs on suspected militant hide-outs, storehouses and defensive positions in the southern outskirts of Baghdad on Thursday, the United States military said.

In one of the largest airstrikes in recent months, two B-1 and four F-16 aircraft dropped 38 bombs within 10 minutes near the Latifiya district south of Baghdad, the military said. The airstrikes were accompanied by a large Iraqi and American ground assault.

The air attack was part of a nationwide joint offensive, dubbed Operation Phantom Phoenix, which includes a continuing sweep in Diyala Province, north of Baghdad, and raids Thursday in Salahuddin Province, northwest of the capital, between Samarra and Ramadi.

The operation took place as attacks against Iraqi security forces, American soldiers and Sunni Arab militias allied with the United States have increased in the last few weeks. A series of suicide bombings, assassinations and car bombs has threatened to reverse the downward trend in violence, especially in Baghdad, where dozens of people have been killed since the New Year.

On the 8th, RTT News reported,
In an effort to root out attempts by Al Qaeda-in-Iraq to regain strength in the country and to build on a recent reduction in violence, the multi-national force in Iraq has launched a major joint operation with Iraqi forces named Operation Phantom Phoenix.

In a press release issued on Tuesday, Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of Multi-National Corps - Iraq, said a series of joint Iraqi and coalition operations will pursue and neutralize remaining al-Qaeda in Iraq and other extremist elements.

Operation Phantom Phoenix will synchronize “lethal and non-lethal effects” to exploit recent security gains and disrupt terrorist support zones and enemy command and control. The non-lethal aspects are designed to improve delivery of essential services, economic development, and local governance capacity.

The division- and brigade-level operations will cover the entire country, the statement said. “Working closely with the Iraqi Security Forces, we will continue to pursue Al Qaeda and other extremists wherever they attempt to take sanctuary,” Odierno said.

I noticed right away, while reading RTT's report versus the report by the NY Times that in the first, the force is described directly as multi-national while in the latter, the NY Times downplays the force being multi-national with the United States acting essentially alone.

This isn't to say that the NY Times does not mention Iraqi forces, but it does seem that RTT is more direct in its description of the nature of the operation.

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