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Commander in Iraq Expresses Condolences to Families

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 22, 2004 – The U.S. commander of multinational forces in Iraq today expressed his condolences to the families of those killed in an attack on a dining facility tent in Mosul, Iraq, Dec. 21 and vowed that terrorism will not stop scheduled January elections.

"We deeply regret the injuries and loss of life among our fellow members of the armed forces, our civilian contractors and members of the Iraqi security forces who have committed themselves to helping 25 million Iraqis build a better future," Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., commander of Multinational Force Iraq, said. "Our prayers and condolences go out to the loved ones and families of these brave men and women."

Officials have said they expected increased terrorist violence as insurgents try to disrupt the political process, derail elections and intimidate the Iraqi people.

"Insurgents, who have everything to lose, are desperate to create the perception that elections are not possible," Casey said in a statement from Baghdad. "We will not allow terrorist violence to stop progress toward elections."

In other news from Iraq, Task Force Danger soldiers captured three individuals, including a suspected insurgent fighter, in an early-morning raid near Hawija today, officials said. The detained individuals were taken to Multinational Force detention facilities for questioning.

In a continuing effort to disrupt insurgents, the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit has in recent days conducted limited-scale raids that detained several individuals with terrorist ties. In a series of carefully planned raids, Marines targeted known terrorist safe houses within the city of Hit, officials said.

The individuals detained are considered "key terrorism facilitators" in the region and are responsible for many of the attacks against multinational forces and their Iraqi security force partners, officials said.

During the raids, the unit uncovered electronic devices, transmitters, and long-range cordless handsets -- devices used to produce improvised explosive devices. A mortar position and night-vision devices also were found.

While en route to one of the raids, elements of the MEU were engaged by small- arms fire from about 10 insurgents. The Marines directed a close-air-support mission from a U.S. Air Force AC-130 gunship, which silenced the threat. The Marines completed the mission without any casualties.

On Dec. 21, the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit assumed operational control of Karbala province from the Polish-led Multinational Division Central South during a ceremony there.

The move came as part of a realignment of forces in southern Iraq. MEU Marines relinquished responsibility for Qadisiyah province last month to MND-CS forces.

While in Karbala province, the Marines will conduct security patrols, train, equip and build leadership in the 401st Iraqi National Guard Battalion, and police force and conduct civil military operations in their area of responsibility southwest of Baghdad.

The MEU forces also will work on civil affairs projects to improve conditions in public education; essential services, including water, electricity, and parking; governance; public health; the economy; and general quality of life.

U.S. Marines assumed control of Najaf and Qadisiyah provinces on July 31 and relinquished control Qadisiyah province to MND-CS forces on Nov. 30.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq news releases.)

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Biographies:
Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., Commander, Multinational Force Iraq

Related Sites:
Multinational Force Iraq
31st Marine Expeditionary Unit
11th Marine Expeditionary Unit



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