Thursday, October 22, 2015

Raid on Hawija

We appear to have lost a member of a rescue force sent into northern Iraq to free Kurdish prisoners of ISIL:

The raid [against a prison run by ISIL] was conducted alongside Kurdish and Iraqi forces in the city of Hawija. Seventy Kurdish hostages were allegedly freed as a result of the action.

We also captured some ISIL members.

It's fairly amazing that the raid was successful given that it was made up of US, Kurdish, and Iraqi forces.

Why were the Kurdish prisoners so important to justify a rare direct action by our forces?

Although I can't rule out that the only reason others aren't known is because they haven't resulted in the deaths of any US forces.


UPDATE: Ah, I was wondering how we managed to maintain security with Iraqi forces involved, too, but it was with just the Kurds:

Early today in Iraq, at the request of the Kurdistan Regional Government, U.S. Special Operations Forces supported an Iraqi Peshmerga operation to rescue hostages at an ISIL prison near Hawijah, Iraq.

We termed them "Iraqi Peshmerga" to basically disguise that it was just with the regional Kurdish forces. Yes, they are technically part of Iraq and so the term is narrowly accurate.

But the Iraqis--as in actual Shia or Sunni Arab Iraqis--were not part of the rescue force.

UPDATE: More on the raid.

Delta Force supported the Kurds and intervened to help the Kurdish troops when their assault stalled. That's when one of our troops was fatally wounded.

Oddly, we struggled to justify the raid:

Overall, no U.S. official has been able to articulate exactly why the raid was conducted, since no “high-value” targets were thought to be at the site.

It's possible we just don't want to say who we got--or who we thought we might get, to avoid blowing a source.

It is also possible it was just an ally maintenance raid designed to keep the Iraqi Kurds with us despite our seeming failure to get on with the defeat of ISIL.

Note we also dropped arms to Syrian Kurds recently.

I hope it was worth it. Delta Force isn't just really good infantry. So losing these highly skilled operators at even 500:1 kill ratios against ill-trained rabble jihadis is effectively a jihadi victory--unless the objective justifies the loss.

UPDATE: I'll settle on ally maintenance as the reason for this rare raid:

Such rescue attempts are rare. The joint operation highlighted the status of Kurdish peshmerga fighters as key allies of the U.S.-led coalition against the militants, also known as ISIL, who control large swathes of Iraq and neighboring Syria.

"The intention was to rescue peshmerga taken hostage by ISIL," said the source in the Security Council of Kurdistan, a semi-autonomous region of northern Iraq.

The Kurds fight. We need to keep them in the fight.