According to the US military, it was the largest air assault in Iraq since the U.S. invasion in 2003. The area was a hotbed for insurgent activity including the kidnapping and killing of civilians and soldiers. Samarra was the site of the bombing of the revered Al-Askari Shiite Shrine on 22 February 2006, that set off a wave of sectarian killing that claimed almost 500 lives. Coalition forces said they had captured a number of weapons caches containing shells, explosives and military uniforms. The US military expected this operation to last several days. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari stated that insurgents were “trying to create another Fallujah“. The Operation netted at least 48 suspects, of which about 17 were released. The U.S Military reports no significant resistance, and also says it achieved the tactical surprise factor it was seeking.
Other reports, however, have suggested that the lack of resistance may have been due to a lack of significant targets in the region. Time magazine’s Brian Bennett reported that the area is a farming community with only 1,500 residents. Time also contested early television news reports that the operation was the largest use of air power since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, indicating that no air strikes had occurred. Bennett points out that the military term air assault refers specifically to moving troops into an area. Reporter Christopher Allbritton further reports that no fixed-wing aircraft were involved in the operation. However, the lack of fixed-wing aircraft and the use of airstrikes does not mean that the mission was not, by definition, an air assault.
|Part of the Post-invasion Iraq|
Operation Swarmer begins with the largest air assault operation since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
| US-led coalition,
New Iraqi Army
|Mujahideen Shura Council|
|More than 50 aircraft,
and 1,500 troops
|Casualties and losses|
|None||48 Captured (17 were later released)|