U.S. troops have reopened a critical traffic route in northern Iraq that had been closed for more than four months after insurgent attacks, officials said last week.
The main route between the cities of Tal Afar and Mosul had been closed since car bombings destroyed a vital bridge along the road.
“Soldiers from the 43rd Combat Engineer Company installed the Armored Vehicle Launched Bridge, or AVLB, on the Badoush Bridge to restore vehicle travel,” a news release from the U.S. military read. “This saves vehicles several hours of delays caused by detours.”
The AVLB is an interim solution while permanent repairs to the bridge are completed, officials said. But the increased traffic flow should help commerce to move from Mosul out to the western parts of Nineveh province, the military said.
Army Capt. Jerry Jones, the engineer company’s commander, was quoted as saying that the combination of the AVLB and Iraqi army outposts on the highway creates a route for coalition forces and Iraqi citizens “that will allow commerce to start flowing back into Mosul from the west without having to bypass to the south.”
“This is not only a step to increase Iraqi commerce, but also tells the insurgents that no matter what they do and no matter how many bridges they try to blow up, they will not succeed,” he said.
Over the past year, insurgents have destroyed several bridges throughout Iraq, including some that had connected different parts of the capital, Baghdad.
The targeting of bridges was described by U.S. commanders as a tactic to keep sectarian populations isolated in some areas of the country, as well as to hinder normal commerce and the ability of Iraqis to move freely.