Battle of Basra (2008)
The Battle of Basra began on 25 March 2008, when the Iraqi Army launched an operation to drive the Mahdi Army militia out of the southern Iraqi city of Basra. The operation was the first major operation to be planned and carried out by the Iraqi Army since the invasion of 2003. Coalition and Iraqi aircraft patrolled the skies above Basra providing intelligence and carrying out air strikes in support of Iraqi forces on the ground. Coalition forces provided embedded military transition teams in Iraqi Army units and American special forces conducted joint operations with ISOF units. Iraqi forces faced heavy resistance from Mahdi Army militia inside the city and the offensive stalled, requiring American and British air and artillery support resulting in a stand-off. More than 1,000 casualties resulted in six days of heavy fighting. Following a ceasefire negotiated in Iran on 31 March, Muqtada al-Sadr withdrew his fighters from the streets, but had gained a major political victory. However, the Iraqi Army, reinforced with brigades from other parts of Iraq, including the 1st Division from al-Anbar, continued to carry out slower, more deliberate clearing operations in militia strongholds.
The Hillah Special Weapons and Tactics Unit, as well as Iraqi Special Operations Forces, carried out a number of targeted raids on militia leaders. By 20 April, the Iraqi Army had taken control of the last major district controlled by the Mahdi Army, by 24 April, Iraqi forces claimed to be in full control of the city centre. During the invasion of Iraq, Basra was the first city to fall to Coalition forces, following two weeks of fighting between the British and Iraqi forces. Following the collapse of the Iraqi government, a number of Shi'ite Islamist groups, including the Sadrist Trend led by Muqtada al-Sadr, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council and Fadhila, were able to expand their influence in Basra, solidifying their standing following the January 2005 elections. Basra became a center of smuggling activity in Iraq, including cigarette smuggling, opium from Afghanistan which transits Iran and gas smuggling, illegal weapons, other criminal rackets. Violence increased as the three parties vied for control of Basra's resources, continuing through 2005 and 2006.
At the same time, attacks on British forces increased following the use of sophisticated explosively formed penetrators smuggled in by Iran restricting the British to their bases, which militia targeted with rocket and mortar fire on a regular basis. The Mahdi Army enforced strict Islamic rule in Basra, threatening women for wearing makeup and punishing individuals for playing secular Western and Arabic music. In late September 2006, British forces launched Operation Sinbad, a six-month operation intended to purge militia from the Iraqi police but targeted the militias directly. However, British forces did not have sufficient numbers and despite a temporary decrease in violence, British troops were again under attack and withdrew to their positions at the palace and the airport; the UK military returned control of Basra to the Iraqi forces in December 2007 and concentrated its forces at the city airport. In February 2008, Muqtada al-Sadr's followers renewed a ceasefire, declared in August 2007, under which they pledged not to attack rival armed groups or American forces in Iraq.
General Qassem Suleimani of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps ordered this truce. The truce, came under strain in the weeks before the battle as Iraqi forces detained "rogue" militia members. In 2007, the Iraqi Army moved 4 brigades, including one of its two tank brigades from the 9th Division, a special forces battalion to Basra; the existing brigade was transferred to Wasit province to break its ties to militia groups in Basra. The Iraqi National Police moved two battalions to Basra. In August 2007, the Iraqi Army established the Basra Operational Command, a Corps-level command in charge of 2 Iraqi Army divisions, under the command of Lt General Mohan al-Furayji; the Vice Chief of Staff of the Iraqi Joint Staff said "We do not have enough forces there. That is why we are having a new division, the 14th Division, to be built in Basrah with the possibility that the British might be leaving us in time.". The formation of this new division was not scheduled to be completed before June 2008 and was accelerated to deal with the upcoming operation.
The 3rd brigade of the division graduated from the Besmaya Combat Training Center Program on 13 February 2008, five weeks before the battle and the 4th brigade is still forming. In mid-March, the deputy prime minister, Barham Salih, called for a "very strong military presence in Basra to eradicate the militia", he indicated possible Coalition force involvement in the plan. On Thursday, 20 March, Lt General Mohan al-Furayji warned his troops to prepare for a "final battle" in Basra to defeat Shia militia before provincial elections in October that year. On 22 March, the Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki met with the commander of US forces in Iraq, General David Petraeus. During the meeting, al-Maliki explained that the impending operation would be an "entirely Iraqi affair...to take on criminals and gang leaders" in Basra. General Petraeus advised al-Maliki not to rush into a fight and that the large scale movement of Iraqi forces would put strains on the Iraqi logistical and command and control networks, as well as "putting at risk" a lot of the gains made since the start of the US "Surge" in 2007 by threatening the ceasefire imposed on the Mahdi Army by Muqtada al-Sadr.
The Mahdi Army had long been well-entrenched in their districts with sniper positions, ambush sites, roadside
Battle of Bosra
The Battle of Bosra was fought in 634 between the Rashidun Caliphate army and the Byzantine Empire for the possession of Bosra, in Syria. The city capital of the Ghassanid kingdom, a Byzantine vassal, was the first important one to be captured by the Islamic forces; the siege lasted between June and July 634. Caliph Abu Bakr sent his four corps under Amr ibn al-A'as, Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah, Shurahbil ibn Hasana and Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan and appointed for them different districts of Syria to capture, they were unable to get significant success in their goals and were in great pressure because of concentration of the Byzantine army at Ajnadayn. Abu Bakr therefore decided to send Khalid ibn Walid,The conqueror of Iraq, to Syria to command the Rashidun army there. Khalid ibn Walid reached Syria and capturing town to town he reached the city of Bosra in June 634 A. C. According to his instructions Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah who had occupied the District of Hauran which lay north-east of the river Yarmuk, was to remain at his position until Khalid arrived at Bosra.
Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah had three corps of the Muslim army under his command - his own, Yazid's and Shurahbil's, but he had fought no battles and captured no towns. One place which worried him a great deal was Bosra, a large town, the capital of the Ghassanid Kingdom, it was garrisoned by a strong force of Byzantine and Christian Arabs under the command of Roman officers. While Khalid was clearing the region of Eastern Syria, Abu Ubaidah came to know that he would come under Khalid's command upon the latter's arrival, he decided to take Bosra quickly. He therefore sent Shurahbil with 4,000 men to capture Bosra. Shurahbil marched to Bosra, the garrison of which withdrew into the fortified town as soon as the Muslims appeared in sight; this garrison consisted of 4,000 soldiers, but expecting that more Muslim forces would soon arrive and that Shurahbil's detachment was only an advance guard, it remained within the walls of the fort. Shurahbil camped on the western side of the town, positioned groups of his men all round the fort.
For two days nothing happened. The following day, as Khalid ibn al-Walid set out on the last day of his march to Bosra, the garrison of the town came out to give battle to the Muslims outside the city. Both forces formed up for battle; the Byzantines vainly chose the sword, in the middle of the morning the battle began. For the first two hours or so the fighting continued at a steady pace with neither side making any headway; the Romans were able to move forces around both Muslim flanks, the fighting increased in intensity. The temper of the Muslims became suicidal as the real danger of their position became evident and they fought ferociously to avoid encirclement, which appeared to be the Roman design. By early afternoon the Roman wings had moved further forward, the encirclement of Shurahbil's force became a virtual certainty; the combatants became aware of a powerful force of cavalry galloping in mass towards the battlefield from the northwest. Khalid was about a mile from Bosra, he ordered the men to horse, as soon as the cavalry was ready, led it a gallop towards the battlefield.
But Khalid and the Romans never met. As soon as the Romans discovered the arrival of the Muslim cavalry, they broke contact from Shurahbil and withdrew hastily into the fort; the Muslims under Shurahbil came to regard this occurrence as a miracle: the Khalid had been sent to save them from destruction! The next morning, the Byzantine garrison again came out of the fort to give battle; the shock of Khalid's arrival the previous day had now worn off, seeing that the combined strength of the Muslims was about the same as their own, the Romans decided to try their luck again. They hoped to fight and defeat the Muslims before they could get a rest after their march; the two armies formed up for battle on the plain outside the town. Khalid kept the center of the Rashidun army under his own command, appointing Rafay bin Umayr as the commander of the right wing and Dharar bin Al Azwar as the commander of the left wing. In front of the center, he placed a thin screen under Abdur-Rahman bin Abu Bakr. At the start of the battle, Abdur-Rahman dueled with the Roman army commander and defeated him.
As the Roman general fled to the safety of the Roman ranks, Khalid launched a general attack along the entire front. For some time the Romans resisted bravely, while the commanders of the Muslim wings played havoc with the opposing wings Dharar, who now established a personal tradition which would make him famous in Syria - adored by the Muslims, dreaded by the Romans; because of the heat of the day, he took off his coat of mail. He took off his shirt and became naked above the waist; this made him feel lighter and happier. In this half naked condition Dharar launched his assaults against the Romans and slaughtered all who faced him in single combat. Within a week, stories of the Naked Champion would spread over Syria, only the bravest of Romans would feel inclined to face him in combat. After some fighting, the Byzantine army withdrew into the fort. At this time Khalid was fighting on foot in front of his centre; as he turned to give orders for the commencement of the siege, he saw a horseman approaching through the ranks of the Muslims.
It was Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah and with him was a yellow standard and is believed to have