Anbar reconnected; operations launched in Ramadi
BAGHDAD — On the same day phone service was restored in Anbar province for the first time in two months, U.S. and Iraqi forces launched the fourth in a series of operations in the provincial capital of Ramadi.
Residents in Anbar — a Sunni-dominated region and the epicenter of the insurgency — had been without telephone, television and Internet service since insurgents destroyed the network in early October.
On Saturday, American officials announced the resumption of services after a repair effort by the U.S. military and local officials.
“The people of al Anbar Province were reconnected to their country’s capital and the rest of the world today,” read a Marine Corps news release from Camp Blue Diamond, in Ramadi. “The repair of the fiber-optic cable reconnected the province with the national fiber-optic network and will provide many of the more than 1.3 million residents of al Anbar access to services.”
On the same day, a joint force of some 550 U.S. and Iraqi troops launched Operation Tigers in the Ma’Laab district of eastern Ramadi. The operation is the fourth in a series of “disruption operations” aimed at insurgent strongholds in the city.
“Cordon and searches, blocking off known terrorist escape routes, and searching for weapons caches in the targeted areas are incorporated as part of Operation Tigers,” the Marines announced.
The first of the operations, called Operation Panthers, was launched Nov. 16. Since then, Marine officials said, “numerous” insurgents have been killed or captured, and several weapons caches have been seized. The weapons included surface-to-air missiles, rocket-propelled grenades, mortar rounds, artillery shells, land mines and bomb-making materials.
Ramadi, a city of around 400,000, has had woeful turnouts in the previous two nationwide votes. U.S. military officials hope the series of operations brings a measure of security for residents who want to vote for members of a new parliament on Dec. 15. Voters stayed away from the January and October polls because of a combination of security concerns and a boycott ordered by Sunni leaders.