Island troops help root out militants in new assault
Helicopters from the Hawaii-based 25th Infantry Division took part in a new Iraq offensive yesterday, targeting al-Qaida forces in the city of Baqubah.
Initial reports said 22 insurgents were killed in the city, 30 miles northeast of Baghdad. No U.S. casualties were reported.
"The end state is to destroy the al-Qaida influence in this province and eliminate their threat against the people," said Brig. Gen. Mick Bednarek, deputy commanding general of operations for the division, in a dispatch posted on the Pentagon Web site. "That is the No. 1, bottom-line, up-front, in-your-face task and purpose."
The 25th Combat Aviation Brigade from Schofield Barracks was taking part in the offensive, dubbed Arrowhead Ripper, which U.S. officials said involves 10,000 soldiers, attack helicopters, close-air support, Strykers and Bradley fighting vehicles.
The attacks also involved the 1st Cavalry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team from Fort Hood, Texas, and two brigades of the 2nd Infantry Division from Fort Lewis, Wash.
Bednarek said a newly formed Diyala Operations Center would coordinate activities by the police, Iraqi army and forces from Task Force Lightning. Baqubah lies on the Diyala River just outside the so-called Sunni Triangle.