Iraqi army and Peshmerga work together to quell insurgency in Diyala province
Soldiers from Blackhorse Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, discuss mission plans with their Iraqi army partners for a patrol through Al Aitha, Diyala province, Iraq, May 7. The Soldiers conduct patrols through the community around Forward Operating Base Normandy as part of their counter-indirect fire missions.

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, May 19, 2010) -- The traditionally strained relationship between Arab and Kurdish Iraqis may have made some leeway in April when troops from both groups worked alongside U.S. Soldiers in a operation to help eradicate al-Qaeda extremists from the Diyala province.

The three-phase, Iraqi-led offensive called Operation Chelan used Iraqi army, Kurdish Regional Guard (Peshmerga), and U.S. troops to target al-Qaeda, which has used Diyala as a stronghold, said Lt. Col. Michael Marti, the division senior intelligence officer, for 3rd Brigade Combat Team in Tikrit, Iraq.

Marti said the operations were primarily led and driven by Iraqi-gathered intelligence.

"It disrupted al-Qaeda operations and in many cases forced their leaders to depart the province, so now you have elements that are working without their leadership, and [the operation] also secured weapons caches," Marti said.

The weapons recovered included 36 mortar rounds, more than 20 assault rifles and machine guns, 16 rocket propelled grenades and various forms of explosives used to make explosive devices, he explained.

"We were able to decrease a lot of the caches that these al-Qaeda in Iraq elements had been tapping into to conduct attacks against Iraqi security elements as well as U.S. forces," he said.

Eight al-Qaeda leaders were also arrested and are currently being held by Iraqi security forces.

Marti said intelligence gained from the Chelan operations set the stage for another offensive which will target not only al-Qaeda, but also Sunni and Shiite insurgent groups in the coming weeks.

"If you are looking at these operations in the perspective of the local populace, and you want to gain confidence, then you would want to see an even-handed targeting across the different sects," he explained.

Page last updated Thu May 20th, 2010 at 10:36