WASHINGTON, Aug. 8, 2006 – Iraqi security forces and U.S. soldiers of Multinational Division Baghdad yesterday launched the second phase of Operation Together Forward to increase security and reduce violence in Baghdad. The operation is a combined effort between Iraqi police, the Iraqi army, and Multinational Division Baghdad to reduce murders, kidnappings, assassinations, terrorism and sectarian violence in the city and to reinforce the Iraqi government's control of Baghdad, U.S. officials said.
Phase 2, which is supported by the government of Iraq, began with the combined forces of the Iraqi National Police and the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, conducting clearing operations in Baghdad. "We must dramatically reduce the level of violence in Baghdad that is fueling sectarianism," U.S. Army Major Genenal. J.D. Thurman, commander of Multinational Division Baghdad, said. "Iraqi and U.S. forces will help the citizens of Baghdad by reducing the violence that has plagued this city since the Samarra bombing."
The Feb. 22 bombing of Samarra's Golden Mosque, a Shiite religious shrine, started a wave of sectarian violence. Phase 2 of Operation Together Forward is designed to allow the government of Iraq to reduce the level of violence in the city and follow up on successes of Phase 1 of the operation.
During Phase 1, which began July 9, Iraqi security forces and Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers killed or captured 411 murderers associated with death squads. The combined forces conducted more than 32,300 combat patrols and seized at least 43 weapons and ammunition caches.
About 6,000 additional Iraqi forces are being sent to the Baghdad area in support of Phase 2, as are about 3,500 U.S. soldiers of 172nd Striker Brigade Combat Team, based out of Fort Wainwright, Alaska. About 2,000 soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, from Baumholder, Germany, have served as the theater reserve force since November. "Iraqi and Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers will not fail the Iraqi people," Thurman said. "We want what the Iraqi people want: a prosperous country free from terror."