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U.S., Iraqi Forces Complete Operation Spear Near Syrian Border

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 23, 2005 – Iraqi security forces and U.S. Marines and sailors with Regimental Combat Team 2 completed Operation Spear on June 22, concluding a five-day operation in and around the city of Karabilah, near Iraq's border with Syria, military officials in Baghdad reported today.

The operation rooted out terrorist strongholds, killing 47 and detaining one for questioning, officials said.

While patrolling through the small town along the border, Iraqi security forces and U.S. Marines discovered a terrorist torture house, with four hostages bound and gagged inside, officials reported. The hostages received medical attention for wounds they suffered at the hands of their captors.

The hostages said they were tortured and held for three weeks. According to media and others who spoke with the men, officials reported, they said they were neither interrogated by the terrorists nor told why they were being tortured.

The building where the hostages were held contained an improvised explosive device factory in the basement. This building was part of a compound containing a school with bomb-making instructions on the classroom's blackboard.

Three car bomb factories were discovered in separate locations by Iraqi soldiers and U.S. Marines in western Karabilah. A total of 17 car bombs were located, including a tractor-trailer, a dump truck and a van rigged with explosives, which were destroyed in place by a Marine tank unit. Large secondary explosions were observed coming from the explosive-laden vehicles. Iraqi forces and Marines also discovered small weapons caches with machine guns, mortar rounds and rockets.

There have been no signs or indications of any large-scale displacement of the citizens of Karabilah, officials said. Marines manning the checkpoints outside of the city, designed to capture fleeing terrorists, did not report large numbers of citizens leaving the city. (From a Multinational Force Iraq news release.)

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