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'Swarmer,' Other Ops Net Weapons, Terror Suspects in Iraq

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 18, 2006 – Iraqi security forces and U.S. servicemembers participating in Operation Swarmer and other combined operations continued to capture hidden terrorist weapons caches, while detaining and processing terrorist suspects yesterday, military officials in Iraq reported.

Operation Swarmer, an ongoing, methodical search of a 10-mile-by-10-mile area in the Samarra region, has netted six weapons caches and roughly 50 terrorist suspects, officials said. The weapons caches included mortar rounds, rocket-propelled grenades, rockets, artillery rounds and a significant amount of other bomb-making materials for improvised explosive devices.

Seventeen of the roughly 50 detainees were released after questioning and the others remain in custody.

No casualties were reported among Iraqi security forces or coalition units, officials said.

Operation Swarmer was based upon intelligence derived primarily from Iraqi security forces and is being conducted by Iraqi army troops, Ministry of the Interior commandos and U.S. forces. About 850 Iraqi soldiers and commandos are leading the effort, along with more than 600 U.S. soldiers from the Task Force Band of Brothers, officials said.

Meanwhile, five suspected terrorists were detained and a cache was discovered in a soccer field during a joint search operation near Balad yesterday, officials reported. The cordon-and-search operation was designed to disrupt and stymie insurgent activity.

Spearheading the operation were Iraqi soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 4th Iraqi Army Division and U.S. troops with the 1-8 Combined Arms Battalion, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Task Force Band of Brothers.

Two of the five areas searched produced detainees or contraband, and one four suspected terrorists were found at one of those sites.

At the other site, a soccer field, troops found a cache and the fifth suspected terrorist, who they took into custody. The cache included Soviet .50 caliber rifles, Soviet anti-aircraft guns, AK-47 rifles, PKC machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, RPG rounds, mortars, rockets, C4 explosives, hand grenades, mines and other IED-making materials, officials said.

The five detainees were taken to a secured location for further questioning.

(Compiled from various news releases.)

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