Officials said the U.S. combat help represented a request by the Iraqi
government, Middle East Newsline reported. They said the Iraqis asked for U.S. air reconnaissance,
particularly helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles, to detect Al Qaida
insurgents in northern Iraq.
The U.S. military, which ended combat operations in September, has
also been advising Iraqi commanders on both major and minor
counter-insurgency operations. Officials said U.S. help intensified in such
provinces as Anbar, Baghdad, Diyala and Nineveh.
In Nineveh, the U.S. Army was sending troops to join Iraqi CI operations
around the northern city of Mosul, regarded as a major Al Qaida stronghold.
U.S. troops from the 1st Cavalry Division were working with the Iraq Army's
3rd Division to search for AQI suspects in neighborhoods throughout Mosul.
One operation took place on Jan. 19, when U.S. and Iraqi troops swept
through Mosul's Al Harmat neighborhood. Iraqi soldiers, who played the lead
role, established a security cordon, while the Americans served as advisers.
"Today was a great example of them demonstrating their capability to
conduct these operations autonomously," U.S. Army Maj. Jason Carter,
executive officer of Task Force Spear, said. "It reduced the amount of safe
havens that the enemy may think that they have in western Mosul."
This month, Al Qaida has engaged in nearly daily attacks against Iraqi
military and security forces. More than 100 people were killed
in a period of less than a week.