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Officials in Iraq Report on Past Week's Successes

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 20, 2005 – The rebuilding effort continues in Iraq, and coalition military officials here today provided a summary of the past week's progress.

Children in a village of Tamim province received school supplies, clothing and toys from the Nahrain Foundation, a nongovernmental organization that focuses on providing proper nutrition, decent clothing and medical supplies to Iraqi women and children. The foundation received its supplies as part of a joint effort between American donations and a coalition forces-run program known as "Operation Provide School Supplies," which accepts donations from private citizens and corporations in the United States.

More than 600 children will return to renovated or rebuilt schools in Maysan province when school starts this fall. This week, renovation on the Al-Eethnar Mud School was completed, and the Al Eethar Mud School was replaced at a cost of $87,000, benefiting 500 students who attend classes there.

Eight newly built schools in Wassit and Babil provinces are receiving new furniture before the start of the school year. Each of the school projects will receive office desks and chairs, file cabinets and new student desks. Collectively, 400 three-student desks will be proportionally divided among the schools, based upon the number of students.

More reconstruction projects in Sadr City started this week, including a $13 million electrical distribution project. When the project is complete, an estimated 128,000 more people will have a reliable source of electricity. The project includes installation of power lines, 3,040 power poles, 80 transformers, 2,400 street lights, and power connections to individual homes, complete with meters.

Construction started on the $3.8 million Al Rayash Electricity Substation project in the Al Daur district of Salah Ad Din province, located between Tikrit and Bayji. The project, expected to be complete in early December, will provide reliable service to 50,000 Iraqi homes and small businesses. An electric distribution and street lighting project in Daquq was completed on Aug. 17, providing new overhead distribution lines and street lighting in the community.

About 2 million people will benefit from the Baghdad trunk sewer line, which was completed this week. Workers cleaned and repaired the Baghdad trunk sewer line and its associated manholes and pumping stations. The $17.48 million project restored principal sewage collection elements in the Adhamiya, Sadr City and Nissan districts of Baghdad, and will provide for the intended sewer flows to the Rustamiya wastewater treatment plant.

Construction is complete on phase one of the $865,000 Basrah courthouse project. This five-phase project is expected to be complete in October. The main courthouse, expected to hold a number of high profile trials, continues to operate during construction. Iraqi subcontractors are working on the project, and employing an average of 70 local Iraqi workers daily.

Iraqi security forces benefited from reconstruction projects this week as well. A patrol station in the Karkh district of Baghdad province was completed, as was a $390,300 border-post project on the Saudi Arabian border. A division headquarters building for the Iraqi Army in Salah Ad Din province was also completed this week. The $7 million project includes a single-story building with a concrete roof and interior office space to accommodate the unit. Additionally, a $2 million firing range in Taji was completed this week.

To accommodate additional detainees, a new prison project was started in Khan Bani Saad, a mountainous municipality in the Baquba district of Diyala province. The $75 million project will house up to 3,600 inmates. The site is about 550,000 square meters, which includes an educational center, medical facilities and administration buildings. The project will employ about 1,000 Iraqi workers during construction.

In another move that officials said highlights the increasing turnover of security responsibilities to Iraqi forces, generals from Iraqi and coalition forces joined local tribal leaders at a ceremony where Forward Operating Base Dagger in Tikrit, one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces, was officially handed over to the 4th Iraqi Army Division this week.

Iraqi security forces continued training this week. In Taji, Iraqi soldiers completed a Strategic Infrastructure Battalion "train-the-trainer" course. The 90 graduates will go on to serve as instructors at an Iraqi Army training base. A class of future Iraqi army noncommissioned officers graduated from their primary leadership development course on Aug. 15 in Tikrit. Iraqi army unit training also included combat lifesaving, staff training, computer skills and weapons training.

The 1st Iraqi Army Brigade implemented Iraq's first noncommissioned officers academy this week. Iraqi soldiers from the most recent class were the last group to be instructed by the U.S. soldiers who had developed the training. During Saddam's regime, an NCO corps did not exist in the Iraqi army. The class will now be taught by NCOs from the 1st Iraqi Army Brigade, who assisted earlier courses.

Baghdad police continued to demonstrate their capabilities this week. Iraqi Police Service officers in the New Baghdad district conducted a variety of operations, including raids involving over 450 officers. Police confiscated 30 AK-47 rifles, two hand guns and a machine gun during the raids.

They also arrested 30 suspected terrorists, three of whom were targeted in the raids. In addition, police at the Al Khanssa Police Station in Baghdad captured a kidnapper involved in the abduction of a local physician, whose family paid a ransom to have the victim released. Following the arrest, police officers recovered the doctor's vehicle as well as the ransom money paid by his family.

Iraqi soldiers found a weapons cache under a vehicle in Rawah this week. The cache contained two light machine guns and 3,000 rounds of ammunition, nine AK-47 rifles and 500 rounds of ammunition, a NATO machine gun and 200 rounds of ammunition, four concussion grenades, one fragmentary grenade without fuses, and various other ammunition.

Based on two separate tips from Iraqis, coalition forces discovered weapons caches that contained rocket-propelled grenades and two launchers, 16 mortar rounds and a launcher, and five boxes of anti-aircraft ammunition hidden in northwest Baghdad.

Another tip led coalition forces to a large cache of artillery shells in the early hours of Aug. 16. The shells apparently were intended for use as improvised explosive devices. The 25 to 30 individual rounds, located inside a building within Anbar province, were destroyed after security forces confirmed there was no one in the building.

After a local Iraqi identified his neighbors as insurgents, Iraqi soldiers and coalition forces conducted a joint cordon-and-search operation in northwest Fallujah and detained two suspects.

Iraqi security forces killed terrorist Abu Zubair, also known as Mohammed Salah Sultan, in an ambush in the northern city of Mosul this week. Zubair, who was wearing a suicide vest when he was killed, was a known member of al Qaeda in Iraq and a lieutenant in Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab Zarqawi's terrorist operations in Mosul. He was being sought for his involvement in a July suicide bombing attack of a police station in Mosul that killed five Iraqi police officers. He also was suspected of resourcing and facilitating suicide bomber attacks against the coalition, Iraqi security forces and Iraqi citizens throughout the country.

(From a Multinational Force Iraq news release.)

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