Daily Revolt

January 10, 2008

Massive U.S. Airstrike Hits Baghdad

If al Qaeda was defeated then why was such a major operation needed:
U.S. bombers and jet fighters unleashed 40,000 pounds of explosives during a 10-minute airstrike Thursday morning, flattening what the military called al Qaeda in Iraq safehavens on the southern outskirts of the capital.

A military statement said two B-1 bombers and four F-16 fighters dropped the explosives on Arab Jabour in 10 strikes on 40 targets.

The massive attack was part of Operation Phantom Phoenix, a nationwide campaign launched Tuesday against al Qaeda in Iraq.

"Thirty-eight bombs were dropped within the first 10 minutes, with a total tonnage of 40,000 pounds," the statement said.

The punishing attack was carried out above approaching troops of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, which has battled insurgents south of the capital for months.

Operation Phantom Phoenix has already proven deadly for U.S. troops operating north of Baghdad. Nine American soldiers were killed in the first two days of the new American drive to kill al Qaeda in Iraq fighters, the U.S. military reported Wednesday.

The Democrats also seem to think the surge should have put an end to the need for such major military operations:
Still, the Iraqi government has made almost none of the political progress that was promised and Iraqi forces remains heavily dependent on U.S. troops — a reality Democrats say isn't lost among voters.

"No amount of White House spin can hide the fact that the escalation's chief objective of political reconciliation remains unmet, Iraqis have not demonstrated any readiness to stand up and take responsibility for their own country, and 2007 was the most lethal year yet for American troops," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Public opinion may still be in the Democrats' corner, with firm disapproval of Bush's handling of the war since its inception. But the Iraq debate now must share center stage with hot domestic issues like health care, the economy and immigration. In this week's New Hampshire primary, exit polls showed Iraq took second place to the economy in importance for both Democratic and Republican voters.

The split focus is in sharp contrast to the 2006 elections, which were dominated heavily by the war and put Democrats in power for the first time in 12 years.

Of course, the war could easily rebound as the No. 1 issue for voters. The first big test of security gains linked to the U.S. troop buildup in Iraq is at hand. The military already has begun reversing the troop increase and commanders are hoping the drop in insurgent and sectarian violence won't prove fleeting.

At the same time, however, the Pentagon is preparing to send at least 3,000 Marines to Afghanistan in April to bolster efforts to hold off another expected Taliban offensive in the spring, military officials said Wednesday. The move represents a shift in Pentagon thinking that has been slowly developing after months of repeated insistence that the U.S. was not inclined to fill the need for as many as 7,500 more troops that commanders have asked for there.

Democrats are likely to try again to set a timetable on troop withdrawals from Iraq when Congress reconvenes this year. But with Republicans sticking firmly behind the president, Democrats know it is unlikely such measures will pass for now.

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