In August, the operation was expected to expand to include 50,000
troops — more than 40,000 contributed by Iraq — and include activities
along the border with Iran. Officials said the intensive search for Al Qaida
in Diyala would last several weeks.
"I don't think we need infantry from the coalition side," Al Askari told
a briefing on July 30. "But we have coordinated our work to have a joint
On July 28, the U.S. military reported that Iraqi and U.S. soldiers
discovered several weapons caches near Hamud in eastern Diyala. The military
said soldiers from the Iraq Army's 5th Division unearthed 12 caches,
including those that contained 60 mm mortar rounds and a rocket propelled
"The operation started south of Balad Ruz to deny the area as a safe
haven to criminals in the Diyala and Baghdad provinces and to pursue them
wherever they may go," U.S. Lt. Col. Paul Calvert, a squadron commander at
the Armored Cavalry Regiment, said. "Operations will continue to press
forward until the objective has been accomplished."
Operation Sabre Pursuit began in eastern Diyala on July 26. Officials
said U.S. and Iraqi military planners have considered the prospect that most
of the Al Qaida leadership has fled toward the Syrian border.
"[There are] very tough conditions out there, very hot, very dry," U.S.
military spokesman Brig. Gen. David Perkins said. "There's palm groves.
There's other agricultural areas that provide enclaves and hiding areas for
the terrorists. So, it just takes a lot of physical effort to go through
this difficult terrain in very hot and demanding conditions."