Monday, August 13, 2007

Major New Offensive Underway

MNC-I conducts Operation Phantom Strike
Multi-National Corps – Iraq PAO

BAGHDAD – Multi-National Corps-Iraq launched a major offensive, Operation Phantom Strike, on August 13 in a powerful crackdown to disrupt AQI and Shia extremist operations in Iraq. It consists of simultaneous operations throughout Iraq focused on pursuing remaining AQI terrorists and Iranian-supported extremist elements.

Recent Coalition offensive operations, such as Fardh Al-Qanoon and Phantom Thunder, have reduced the effectiveness of extremist groups. The operations denied AQI safe havens, disrupted extremist support zones and supply lines, captured or killed significant AQI and Shia extremist leaders, and liberated large segments of the Iraqi population from AQI. These combined operations included the coordinated and synchronized efforts of Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces, appreciably improving the lives of the Iraqi people.

“Coalition forces and Iraqi Security forces continue to achieve successes and pursue security throughout many areas of Iraq”, said Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of Multi-National Corps-Iraq. “My intent is to continue to pressure AQI and other extremist elements throughout Iraq to reduce their capabilities.”

Operation Phantom Strike is a joint Iraqi Security and Coalition Forces operation to eliminate remaining elements of AQI and other extremist groups, preventing them from causing further terrorism and inciting sectarian violence. Additionally, it will intensify pressure on extremist networks across the entire theater.

Phantom Strike comes on the heels of Operation Phantom Thunder, the first major offensive undertaken by coalition forces after the deployment and positioning of the five new brigades of combat troops known as the surge.  Between Phantom Thunder and Phantom Strike, coalition forces undertook a series of shaping operations, designed to push insurgents into areas of the country where Phantom Strike held near complete advantage.

Unlike prior offensive engagements, U.S. commanders were quite nondescript in the locations where the operations were to take place and few details were given on which units were to be involved.

Another key difference in Phantom Strike is a new focus on Shiite insurgents, which the U.S. Commanders accuse of being linked to, trained and supplied by Iranian Quds Forces.  Shiite militants laid low during Phantom Thunder and Operation Fardh Al Qanun, only to emerge from obscurity after Al Qaeda and Sunni insurgents had been neutralized.  Phantom Strike is a simultaneous operation against both sectarian groups of militias.