Another great dispatch from Michael Yon:
Al Qaeda is still trying to spin Iraq into civil war, but whereas in 2005-2006 al Qaeda was succeeding, today al Qaeda is being shredded.
An Iraqi officer near Sinjar told me that recently a group of perhaps twenty “jihadists,” many of them foreign, descended on a Nineveh village. The Iraqi officer said the terrorists killed some adults and two babies. One baby they murdered was 15 days old.
Until recently, such terror attacks inside Iraq could have coerced the village into sheltering Al Qaeda. Yet this time, the “jihadists” got an unexpected reception. Local men grabbed their rifles and poured fire on the demons, slaughtering them. Nineteen terrorists were destroyed. Times have changed for al Qaeda here. Too many Iraqis have decided they are not going to take it anymore. Al Qaeda in Iraq is still fighting, and they are tough and wily, but al Qaeda Central seems to realize there are easier targets elsewhere, perhaps in Europe, where many people demonstrate weakness in the face of terror.
Al Qaeda was apparently not in Iraq before this war, and at the current rate they will not be here when it’s over. The Iraqi Army and Police are doing most of the work these days, but their own operations are significantly augmented by what we bring to the fight.
Actually, they were in Iraq prior to our invasion:
The Pentagon released captured Iraqi documents prove Saddam Hussein had contact and interaction with terror groups, including al Qaeda.
From “Saddam’s Terror Links” article this morning on Wall Street Journal Review and Opinion page at opinionjournal.com:
“…The redacted version of “Saddam and Terrorism” is the most definitive public assessment to date from the Harmony program, the trove of “exploitable” documents, audio and video records, and computer files captured in Iraq. On the basis of about 600,000 items, the report lays out Saddam’s willingness to use terrorism against American and other international targets, as well as his larger state sponsorship of terror, which included harboring, training and equipping jihadis throughout the Middle East….”
The main American helicopter unit in Nineveh is 4-6 Air Cavalry Squadron. (U.S. Army) The normal strength of the “Redcatchers” is forty helicopters – thirty Kiowas and ten Blackhawks – but the Squadron has lost one Kiowa and a Blackhawk in Iraq, costing more than a dozen lives. The soldiers were lost forever, but the helicopters were replaced, and the squadron is flying hard as ever, and to great affect. The pilots and crews work 24/7, performing both direct combat and combat support missions.
……The main American helicopter unit in Nineveh is 4-6 Air Cavalry Squadron. The normal strength of the “Redcatchers” is forty helicopters – thirty Kiowas and ten Blackhawks – but the Squadron has lost one Kiowa and a Blackhawk in Iraq, costing more than a dozen lives. The soldiers were lost forever, but the helicopters were replaced, and the squadron is flying hard as ever, and to great affect. The pilots and crews work 24/7, performing both direct combat and combat support missions.
……In 2005, nearby Tal Afar was known as “Al Qaeda city,” as terrorists used it for training and R&R. And though Nineveh Province is now the most dangerous place in Iraq, it’s much quieter than a couple years ago. Still, there is plenty of trouble, especially when your job is to find it, and the summer of 2008 likely will bring the showdown into Mosul, where the media probably will report a small part of it, missing 99 percent of the fighting to disrupt the terrorists and drive stakes through their hearts.
……Nineveh in late March 2008
There are no guarantees, but this could be the endgame for major combat operations in Iraq. Combat is likely to heat up in Mosul and western Nineveh by about May. There likely will be some reports of increased US and Iraqi casualties up here, but this does not mean that we are losing ground or that al Qaeda is resurging – though clearly they are trying. If there is an increase in casualties here as we go into the summer of 2008, it is because our people and the Iraqi forces are closing in. We have seen just how deadly al Qaeda can be. This enemy is desperate. They know they are losing. They are not likely to go out easy. The enemy is smart, agile and adaptive. Likely they will land some devastating blows on us, but at this rate, our people and Iraqi forces appear to be driving stakes through al Qaeda hearts faster than al Qaeda is regenerating.
As usual, Michael Yon’s standard is excellence! Thank you Michael, for telling the truth that the MSM cannot bring itself to do. They’re much too busy functioning as a propaganda wing of Al Jazeera.