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Operation Scorpion Concludes

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 26, 2006 – Iraqi soldiers, with assistance from U.S. troops, detained 52 suspected insurgents March 24 during Operation Scorpion, a sequential cordon and search of eight villages in and around Hawijah, Iraq, that military officials said yesterday had ended.

During the second Iraqi-led operation in as many months, soldiers of the 2nd Brigade, 4th Iraqi Army Division, confirmed that 24 out of the 52 detainees were on their target list, built from their own intelligence gathering. The other detainees are being held for further questioning.

"This Iraqi army brigade has made tremendous progress in the five months we've been working with them," said U.S. Army Col. David Gray, commander of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, which assisted the Iraqis.

"In October, they were loosely organized and not very well trained. The success of Operation Scorpion, and their ability to conduct a complex mission in the Hawijah area without suffering or inflicting casualties, demonstrates their professionalism and improved level of discipline," he said.

The Iraqi-planned and -led offensive started just before sunrise on March 24, as Iraqi soldiers linked up with their U.S. comrades to begin coordinated movement. Just after 4 a.m., Iraqi soldiers moved through the villages, systematically searching for the selected targets that Iraqi intelligence indicated were in the area.

OH-58 Kiowa scout helicopters from 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, circled above and soldiers from 1st BCT's 1st Battalion, provided outer perimeter security. The thorough searches provided intelligence leading to more evidence and capture of more suspects.

"The willingness and ability of the Iraqi soldiers to take on a mission of this scope, and in an area that has been a hotbed of terrorist activity, is an indicator of the progress the Iraqi army has made," Gray said.

Operation Scorpion began with supporting operations in the village of Mahoos and the city of Kirkuk. While 101st soldiers provided perimeter security, Iraqi soldiers, acting on their own intelligence sources, moved by helicopter into Mahoos, searching for seven terror suspects. Within two hours of touching down, the Iraqi company had searched its designated targets, captured five of its intended suspects, and was back on helicopters headed for a nearby U.S. Army compound.

Meanwhile, in another supporting operation, soldiers from the Iraqi Army's 2nd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, teamed up with soldiers from 1st BCT's 2nd Battalion to conduct raids for suspected terrorists in Kirkuk.

As coalition soldiers provided outer cordon security, Iraqi soldiers moved through the neighborhoods, capturing six intended targets. They also discovered a weapons cache of two unregistered AK-47 rifles and various materials used to make improvised explosive devices.

(Compiled from a Multinational Force Iraq news release.)

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