In an apparent follow-up of attacks by Joint Task Force Heavy, the towns of Sall Ala, Khasab, and Salhad have been successfully liberated by both ground and air elements.
The decisive actions taken by both forces have had an immediate positive reaction by the UAE and Oman Governments, and the public alike - with citizens bursting into the streets in celebration.
While the critical praise was very welcome to Joint Task Force Heavy, they did lose an F-16C Viper to enemy fire. Two Ka-50 Blacksharks in the Salhad fight were also lost - one crashed after a suspected mechanical failure, and the other managed to auto-rotate to safety after sustaining three hits from MANPADS guarding the area.
The pilot of the F-16C was hit approximately 60 miles West of Al Dhafra AB, and search and rescue efforts are underway to find the location of the wreckage and pilot.
Residents in Khasab are especially happy about the ouster of the enemy combatants - who were described as brutal to their population while there. One delighted citizen explained what he saw of the retreat: "They were screaming and climbing over each other while piling into helicopters! It was glorious to see the cowardice as the helicopters could barely get away in time! They could barely get off the ground!" Just minutes after the final helicopter left, US Marines rolled in and began securing the city - clearing out all remaining combatants.
Regular patrols of the region will be the latest challenge for the units stationed in the UAE - as it has become clear that the peninsula's security is always at stake.
In a massive show of force last night, contingencies from Joint Task Force Heavy went on the offensive and wiped out strongholds in the UAE/Oman peninsula. These particular locations, have been major hot-spots in the region with the recent battles that have taken place.
Reports of explosions heard as far South as Liwa, and as far North as Khasab, showed the scale of what the insurgencies faced as the night wore on.
The heaviest fighting occurred in Khasab, with scores of enemy fighters and random armored units being destroyed in an attack that lasted two hours straight. Khasab and Ras Al Khaimah Airports were liberated, and both are currently under the control of U.S. Army Rangers that were supporting the fight. The situation isn't all positive, however; Khasab AB is currently taking an influx of casualties and treating them in triages set-up posthaste - citing wounded fighters who were in the path of cluster munitions.
While the enemy fighters are still prevalent in the North, there are signals that the forces in the South have been largely killed, or are retreating into the local population.
U.S.M.C. ground forces at forward bases have seen an influx of wounded fighters looking to surrender, and make-shift prison facilities have been built hastily to prevent combatants from returning to the fight.
As proof that nothing goes unnoticed - reports on Iranian State TV show that protesters have flooded the streets of Bandar Abbas to condemn the high number of cargo aircraft that arrived at Al Dhafra AB.
This is a developing story.
Yesterday afternoon, reports of loud explosions ripped through Fujairah - prompting locals to shelter in place, and cutting off traffic in the city.
Silkworm sites in the area were most notably destroyed, along with Surface to Air batteries that protected the installations.
One resident of Fujairah who wished to remain anonymous, said that it was well known that an insurgent faction has had control of the sites for just under one month - and they have even seen military personnel from the UAE working with the unidentified "operators" of the sites.
This is a very ominous message to the JTF HVY Forces operating in the region.
While the focus of the activity seemed to center around Fujairah, witnesses from Southern Khasab down to Al Dhafra saw multiple enemy F-5E-3 Tiger II's downed by Allied Fighters - particularly two that went down in the Khasab Mountains, and a flurry of Surface to Air missiles that were fired at JTF HVY Aircraft from the Fujairah coast.
In the south, two more F-5E-3's were shot down over the Persian Gulf waters off of the coast of Al Dhafra. Unfortunately, a USMC KC-130J Hercules carrying cargo for VMFA-390 was downed by one of these fighters in the southern confrontation. However, the four crew members were able to bail successfully from their wounded aircraft. The crew was rescued before sunset by two USN SH-60B Seahawks.
In response to the escalating tensions that some would already consider war, the Pentagon has authorized the deployment of 3,000 USMC personnel to the area for support in future missions.
Shock has rippled through the Gulf, as JTF/HVY has been placed on High Alert since Saturday. Joint Task Force Heavy reported the heaviest losses in air-combat for Coalition Forces, since the kickoff of Operation Desert Storm in January-February 1991.
Once again for citizens of the UAE and Oman, the sight of flaming aircraft and SAM's streaking into the air from bases throughout the region was described as "horrifying".
It has been confirmed that the following aircraft were lost -
x4 AV-8B Harriers - VMA-290
x3 F/A-18C Hornets - (x2 VFC-119), (x1 VMFA-390)
x2 Ka-50 Black Shark - 48th Attack and Rescue
x1 F-14B Tomcat - VFC-119
x1 F-16C Viper - 472nd Squadron
x1 A-10C Warthog - 484th Squadron
It has also been said that several F-5E-3 Tiger II's and MiG-21 fighters were lost, though one may have escaped.
Rescue and recovery efforts are moving forward by U.S.M.C. ground units for those who went down or ejected over land, and U.S. Navy SH-60 Seahawks for those who may have gone down at sea. It is unknown how many pilots are KIA/MIA.
In what U.S. Commanders are describing as a "clear and concise offensive" from enemy forces, they are stopping short of calling the destruction that occurred, war. However, the term "insurgency" seems to have fallen to the wayside, and U.S. officials have changed the nomenclature to "enemy combatants".
It is clear that the enemy forces are using older hardware, but are very skilled - as demonstrated in the devastating ambushes that occurred in the air this weekend. At the site of one F-5E-3 Tiger II crashes, it was noted that markings were purposely sanded in a hasty attempt to conceal the origins of the fighter jets.
With bad news seemingly stacked upon bad news, it has also been revealed that hostile forces are now located in the city of Fujairah - boasting some more advanced (captured) Surface to Air missile systems.
With the events that unfolded, it is clear that Joint Task Force Heavy must approach the threats in this region with extreme care and vigilance. Air Patrols will be running 24/7 until a strike can be planned.
Early this morning, a massive VBIED was detonated in the Port of Khasab, shattering windows throughout the city and causing panic among the citizens on the peninsula. At this time, it appears that the majority of the damage was collateral on the Port itself, and it is reported that several civilians were killed, with several still missing. One ship docked nearby the blast was superficially damaged as well.
Secondary explosions have been heard throughout the day today.
Intelligence on the ground has suggested that atrocities are now actively being perpetrated
in Khasab itself, by militants of unknown exact origin. Khasab Airport has also been taken over by a small militant group, so charter flights have been cancelled.
Due to the recent political complexity of having Joint Task Force Heavy in the Gulf, flight operations in the past three weeks have been reduced to CAP flights in the south, well away from any chance encounters with Iranian fighters.
Operations have been approved by Qaboos bin Said and will resume tomorrow, to keep the insurgency in check and allow ground units to enter the area for liberation.