Battle of Tal Afar (2005)

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Battle of Tal Afar
Part of the Iraq War
U.S. Army and Iraqi soldiers, Tal Afar, Iraq, Sept. 11, 2005.jpg
U.S. Army soldiers and Iraqi soldiers patrolling through downtown Tal Afar, Iraq, September 11, 2005.
DateSeptember 1–18, 2005
Result American-Iraqi tactical victory
United States United States
Iraq New Iraqi Army
Flag of al-Qaeda in Iraq.svg Al-Qaeda in Iraq
Other insurgents
Commanders and leaders
H. R. McMaster
Khursheed Saleem Daski Muhsen yahya daski
Iraqi Forces: 5,000
US forces: 3,500
Casualties and losses
USA: 4 killed[1]
Iraq: 15 killed[2]
163 killed, 440–700 captured[2][3]

The Battle of Tal Afar also known as Operation Restoring Rights[4] was a military offensive conducted by the United States Army and supported by Iraqi forces, to eliminate Al Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgents in the city of Tal Afar, Iraq in response to the increase of insurgent attacks against U.S. and Iraqi positions in the area and to end the brutal tactics against the population by the terrorists.[4] Coalition Forces consisted of 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment,[4] elements of the 82nd Airborne Division,[3] and two brigades of the Iraqi 3rd Division, all were under the command of Col. H.R. McMaster. AQI had used the city as a staging ground for moving foreign fighters into Iraq since early 2005.[5] The city was temporarily cleared for elections in 2005, but was not secured in a long-term view.

The offensive was launched on September 1, 2005 in a joint United States Army and the New Iraqi Army operation to destroy suspected insurgents' havens and base of operations in Tal Afar. The initial fighting was heavy, but most of the city was secured on September 3. Although sporadic fighting and attacks would continue through most of September until the operation was declared finished on September 18.


Coalition forces developed and executed a detailed, painstaking methodology, that combined intelligence gathering, combat missions and stability programmes to reconstruct Coalition control of the city, one neighbourhood at a time.[6] McMaster directed civilians to evacuate from the city in order to allow his forces to use artillery and attack helicopters to overcome the insurgents' makeshift Fortifications.[5] Coalition forces fought street-to-street engagements with AQI terrorists and other insurgents, AQI insurgents tried to hold their ground, they also planned and executed coordinated attacks against Coalition troops, they also demonstrated the ability to somewhat command and control the insurgents in the City.[4] Groups of insurgents perhaps hundreds massed to counterattack the advancing US and Iraqi forces, but Abrams tanks and Bradley IFVs "tore them apart."[5] In early September, the insurgents launched a counter-information propaganda campaign;[7] over 17 days, US forces systematically destroyed insurgent cell throughout the city.[3] Despite being encircled, some AQI terrorists escaped the city.[8]

By September 18, the battle was over, Coalition forces succeeded in significantly eliminating AQI and other insurgents from the city, thereby creating a secure environment for the referendum in October and national elections in December 2005, Tal Afar went from being the city with the lowest number of voters to the highest in the country, schools and businesses reopened and the population transitioned back to living a normal life as possible.[4] After the battle, McMaster positioned his troops 29 combat outposts throughout the city to hold the cleared areas, from these outposts they saturated Iraqi neighbourhoods with patrols, once civilians returned to the city, the use of force was minimized. 2nd Battalion 325th Infantry Regiment did not kill any civilians which won the appreciation of the locals; building intelligence on insurgents was made easier with the cooperation of the Shia minority in the city. Similarly McMaster could recruit a police force because the Shia were willing to serve, whereas Sunnis considered the Iraqi Army and police to be their enemy.[5] The operation was considered one of the first successful counterinsurgency operations of the war and President George W. Bush remarked that "the story of Tal Afar gives me confidence in our strategy, because in that city we see the outlines of Iraq we've been fighting for."[3]


  1. ^ - Operation Iraqi Freedom - Iraq Coalition Casualties: Military Fatalities
  2. ^ a b " - 6 insurgents killed in northern Iraq - Sep 18, 2005". Retrieved 13 October 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d Guardia, Mike, The Fires of Babylon: Eagle Troop and the Battle of 73 Easting, 2015, Casemate Publishers
  4. ^ a b c d e Denning, Jeffrey, Warrior SOS: Military Veterans' Stories of Faith, Emotional Survival and Living with PTSD , 2015, Cedar Fort, Inc.
  5. ^ a b c d Marston, Daniel and Malkasian, Carter, Counterinsurgency in Modern Warfare (Companion), 2011, Osprey Publishing
  6. ^ Gambone, Michael, and Piehler, G. Kurt, Small Wars: Low-Intensity Threats and the American Response since Vietnam (Legacies of War), 2013, University of Tennessee Press, ISBN 1572339144 ISBN 978-1572339149
  7. ^ Hashim, Ahmed, Insurgency and Counter-Insurgency in Iraq (Crises in World Politics), 2006, C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd ISBN 1850657955 ISBN 978-1850657958
  8. ^ Counterinsurgency Reader II - Special Edition 2008, 2008, Combined Arms Center

Coordinates: 36°22′27″N 42°27′13″E / 36.3742°N 42.4536°E / 36.3742; 42.4536