During the 2003-present occupation of Iraq, the name Triangle of Death was given by U.S. and allied forces to a region south of Baghdad which saw major combat activity during the last months of 2004.
Description of the Area
The "Triangle of Death" (not to be confused with the much larger Sunni Triangle
further north) lies between Baghdad and Al Hillah
, is inhabited by Sunni majority, and contains several large towns in the Mahmudiya District
. The major terrain feature of the Triangle of Death is the Euphrates River
, which borders the Triangle to the southwest. The terrain is mostly farm land, but is sliced by many irrigation ditches. These farms are usually small, being maintained by the families that own the land. The weather is generally consistent with the rest of Iraq, with the exception of increased humidity due to the area's proximity to the Euphrates River and irrigation canals used for farming.
Musayyib is home to the Musayyib Power Plant, a frequent target of insurgent attacks due to its infrastructure importance. The power plant is capable of supplying one-fourth to one-third of Iraq's electricity demands if it were fully operational. As of October 2006, it is at roughly 33% of its maximum output. Because of the indirect fire attacks on the facility, US forces currently man a Forward Operating Base (known as FOB Dragon) on the grounds of the power plant.
Sociological Causes of Violence in the Area
Analysts generally attribute this area's high level of violence to the tension from the Sunni majority population, the Saddam Hussein
era military industrial complex in the area (such as the al-Quds General Company for Mechanical Industries, the al-Musayyib Ammunition Depot, and the Al Qa'qaa
Munitions Facility), the current lack of economic alternatives to joining the insurgency
, and the near endless supply of munitions stored throughout the area (in part due to the looting of the munitions facilities after the fall of the Hussein Regime).
After the fall of the Hussein Regime, the area's population suffered from unemployment. One city in the Northern Babil Governorate, al Hillah, has been a frequent target of insurgent attacks. As of JAN 2006, al Hillah
has seen the single most deadly suicide bombing
in the Iraqi War when on 28 FEB 2005 125 Iraqis were killed. Other suicide attacks on 30 MAY 2005 (20 killed), 30 MAY 2006 (12 killed), and 30 AUG 2006 (12 killed) have occurred in al Hillah. On 16 JUL 2005, Musayyib saw one of the most savage attacks of the war, when a suicide bomber driving a fuel truck detonated himself and the fuel truck killing at least 98 Iraqis. The Triangle of Death often sees catastrophic attacks like these due to the proximity to both Baghdad and Fallujah-Ramadi area, where suicide bombers usually meet before heading to their intended targets. The Triangle of Death has also reportedly used as the staging area for attacks in Baghdad, specifically the 24 October 2005
attack on the Palestine Hotel
. The Triangle of Death saw several deadly secular attacks during the 2007 Ashura
Even though most insurgent attacks in the Triangle of Death are against Iraqi civilian and Iraqi government forces, U.S. forces have also been the target of a variety of attacks.
On June 16, 2006, one American Soldier (Specialist David J. Babineau) was killed and two other Soldiers (PFC Thomas L. Tucker and PV2 Kristian Menchaca) were kidnapped near the Jifr Sukr Bridge (located on the Euphrates River in southwestern Yusufiyah) after their HMMWV was attacked. Their remains were found four days later, on the side of a canal road near Patrol Base Swamp in Shakaria (approximately 10 kilometers northeast from where they were ambushed). The bodies were discovered by 3rd Platoon, B Company, 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment (101st Airborne Division), led by SFC Jason Beaton. The report from the US Army Graves Registration team indicated that the bodies had been dismembered, mutilated, burned and beheaded, as well as rigged with an IED between one of the victim's legs. The Mujahadeen Shura Council (a prominent insurgent group operating in the Yusifiyah enclave) later released a video showing the mutilatated bodies of the missing Soldiers.
On May 12, 2007, a members of Delta Company, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment (of the US Army's 10th Mountain Division) were attacked with IED, rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire while operating in the vicinity of the Qarghouli tribe region of Yusufiyah. The ambush left five Soldiers dead and three missing. The body of one these missing Soldiers was found in the Euphrates River in Musayyib. The other two missing soldiers had not been found, but on 4 June 2007 the Mujahadeen Shura Council released a video showing the Soldiers' military identification cards and said the soldiers were dead. Updated: 07/11/08 6:37 AM
Andy Jimenez said uniformed military officials came to his home Thursday (10 July, 2008) and told him the remains of Sgt. Alex Jimenez had been identified.
The stepfather of Pfc. Byron Fouty of Waterford, Mich., said his stepson’s remains were also found in Iraq.
Military in the area
Numerous units have been stationed in the Triangle since 2003. Initial deployments began with very rudimentary and temporary quartering, but later expanded to extensive troop commitments and culminated in 2007 with multiple brigades incurring 15-month deployments under the command of Multi-National Division-Central headed by 3rd Infantry Division
Headquarters. Attacks dropped dramatically from the spring through fall of 2007 following the activation of Multi-National Division-Central and an increase in operational tempo following the kidnapping of soldiers from 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry near Yusifiyah in May 2007. Most areas are now under effective control of local authorities with local inhabitants declining to participate in insurgencies led by Al Qaeda in Iraq
and Jaysh al Mahdi
. Units stationed in the area since 2003 have included the following:
- 2nd Brigade of U.S. 3d Infantry Division (2003)
- 3rd Battalion 505th PIR [3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division] (2003-2004)
- 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (2003-2004)
- 105th Military Police Company (New York Army National Guard) (2003-2004)
- 1165th Military Police Company (Alabama National Guard) (2003-2004)
- 214th Military Police Company (Alabama National Guard) (2003-2004)
- 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division (March-July 2004)
- 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (2004)
- 2nd Battalion 2nd Marines (2004)
- The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) (November, 2004) (which served concurrently with 2nd Battalion, 24th Marines, (US)
- 1st Battalion 2nd Marines (24th Marine Expeditionary Unit) (2004 - 2005)
- 2nd Battalion 24th Marines (2004-2005)
- 155th Brigade Combat Team (Mississippi National Guard) (2005)
- 2nd Battalion, 70th Armor Regiment attached to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment (2005)
- 1st Battalion, 108th Armor Regiment, 48th Brigade Combat Team (Georgia National Guard) (2005)
- 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team 101st Airborne Division (September 2005- October 2006)
- Military Transition Team Four, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (September 2005- October 2006)
- Military Transition Team 842 (2005-Present)
- 2nd Brigade 4th Infantry Division (2006)
- 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI) (September 2006- October 2007)
- 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division (September 2006- October 2007)
- 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 10th Mountain Division (September 2006- November 2007)
- 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Battalion, 10th Mountain Division (September 2006- October 2007)
- 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment (October 2006-December 2007)
- 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division (October 2006-December 2007)
- 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment (Rakkasan), 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (October 2007-2008)
- "Iraq's Forbidding 'Triangle of Death'" (Washington Post article, with map)
- "Teams search 'Triangle of Death' for missing soldiers" (CNN, June 17, 2006)
- "Luck runs out in 'Triangle of Death'" (CNN, November 1, 2005)
- "'Triangle of death' south of Baghdad: Bounties offered for killings of Shiites, Westerners" (MSNBC November 19, 2004)
- "To Stop An Arc of Violence" (Washington Post article, September 29, 2005)
- "Iraqi combat capability on the upswing" (World Defense Review, 29 March 5)
- "Iskandariyah" (GlobalSecurity.org on Iskandariyah)
- "Tons of Iraq explosives missing" (CNN.com, October 25, 2004)
- "Al Qa Qaa - Iraq Special Weapons Facilities" (GlobalSecurity.org on Al Qa Qaa)
- "PBS Frontline: The Insurgency" (Streaming video of program available in Windows Media and Real Player formats, FEB 2006)
- "Death toll in Musayyib, Iraq fuel tanker blast rises to 98" (Reuters, 17 JULY 2005)
- “Suicide Bombings In Al-Hillah Kill At Least 20” (Radio Free Europe, 30 May 2005)
- “Iraq Suicide Bomber Kills at Least 110” (AP, 28 February 2005)
- “Insurgents Kill At Least 46 in Iraq” (Voice of America, 30 May 2006)
- “Group purporting to be al-Qaida in Iraq claims responsibility for Hillah attack” (AP, 1 March 2005)
- “Bombings Across Iraq Kill at Least 39” (ABC, 30 August 2006)
- “Iraqi SWAT Team Ready to Hunt Terrorists” (Department of Defense Press Release, 1 February 2006)
- “33 Terrorists Killed In Daylong Battle With ISF, MND-B Soldiers” (CENTCOM News Release, 28 July 2006)
- "Faltering power plant brings Iraq’s electrical woes to light" (Stars and Stripes, 29 September 2006)
- "Iraqi leader of police unit dies in blast"