Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Number of attacks decreases on Baghdad highway to airport

Attacks on and around the 7-mile highway linking Baghdad to its international airport have dropped 41% since May, the result of increased U.S. and Iraqi troop presence and new tactics to battle insurgents along one of the world's most dangerous roads.
There hasn't been a suicide car bombing on the road since April, according to U.S. military statistics through August.U.S. officers attribute the decline to an influx of Iraqi troops who have been stationed at key points along Airport Road, which goes by the military designation Route Irish."Route Irish is definitely not the most dangerous road in Iraq any longer, and everyone who uses it knows it," says Lt. Col. Geoffrey Slack, commander of the New York National Guard's 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment.In May, insurgents staged 49 attacks on the road and in surrounding neighborhoods, including assaults with deadly roadside bombs and rocket-propelled grenades, according to statistics from Slack's battalion, which was responsible for the area until a recent hand-over.Violence in the road's area peaked in November 2004. That month, insurgents launched 52 attacks, including 13 car bombs, according to the military statistics. The number of attacks fell to 29 in August, mostly small-arms fire.Airport worker Hana Abdul Aziz, 28, was on her way to work in a bus with other airport employees one morning last November when the bus came under attack.Aziz remembers glass and blood flying through the air. A woman sitting next to her was killed in the attack. "She got a bullet in her head and died immediately," she says.For most of the past year, the New York battalion has been responsible for securing the road and surrounding neighborhoods. U.S. military officials declined to discuss numbers, but American battalions generally number about 800 troops.In June, an Iraqi police commando unit was assigned to work alongside the American troops. Iraqi battalions typically have about 750 troops, says Lt. Col. Fred Wellman, spokesman for the command responsible for training Iraqi troops.The additional Iraqi troops, along with U.S. counterparts, were deployed at seven armed checkpoints at the entries to the road. The checkpoints are staffed around the clock and can carefully watch vehicles entering the highway.The airport highway has been hotly contested. It is heavily used by American and coalition forces, contractors, diplomats and Iraqis working with them. Surrounding the airport is a large U.S. military facility that serves as headquarters for coalition forces.


Blogger NYgirl said...

This is great. Thanks for posting this.

7:09 PM  
Blogger NYgirl said...

I just linked to this :)

7:40 PM  
Blogger cyouincourt007 said...

: ) : )

11:30 PM  

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