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Forces in Iraq Continue Crackdown, Provide Humanitarian Aid

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 21, 2004 – Iraqi National Guardsmen, backed by elements of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, captured 18 insurgents and an assortment of weapons and munitions south of Baghdad, Iraq, Nov. 20, Multinational Force Iraq officials announced today.

A raid near Haswah netted four men wanted in connection with anti-Iraqi activity and uncovered a stockpile of ordnance, officials reported. The cache included 100 artillery rounds, three large aircraft bombs, three complete mortar systems, one surface-to-air missile launcher, two shoulder-fired rockets, eight miscellaneous projectiles and five AK-47 rifles.

In addition, officials said Iraqi National Guard members operating southeast of Musayyib detained 12 insurgents and seized a variety of weapons and ammunition, including rifles, hand grenades, rocket-propelled grenades, RPG launchers and warheads, detonation cord and a blasting cap.

Marines also captured two anti-Iraqi militants in a raid near Yusufiyah.

Meanwhile, in Fallujah, Iraqi and coalition forces have released more than 400 of the 1,450-plus people detained during Operation Al Fajr. Another 100 detainees were slated to be released today, one day later than initially planned because vehicles were diverted to support ongoing operations, officials said.

Iraqi security forces and coalition allies continue to make progress in restoring security and stability to the area. Since mid-August, more than 600 criminals, terrorists and other anti-Iraqi elements have been captured, officials said, including nearly 250 insurgents during the past three weeks.

In Tikrit, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry soldiers spent nearly two weeks earlier this month cleaning up unexploded munitions north of the city.

Working closely with the 201st Iraqi National Guard Battalion, they discovered and destroyed more than 1,000 rounds of highly explosive artillery ammunition, used to make improvised explosive devices, hidden in former Iraqi Army positions near northern Tikrit, officials reported.

In addition to posing a serious threat to Iraqi and coalition troops with more than 20 improvised explosive device attacks in the area since late October the cache threatened local children, who used the area as a playground, officials said.

Army Capt. Dave Arnold, Bravo Company commander, took advantage of the cleanup as an opportunity for the Iraqi National Guardsmen to teach local children about the dangers of unexploded munitions. "We could have just run the kids off," he said. However, "it occurred to me that it made sense to teach them about the dangers of this stuff."

The class, which was well received by local parents, was the first of its kind in the Task Force 1-18 area, officials said.

In Diwaniyah, Marines, sailors and soldiers of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, along with Iraqi, Polish and Bulgarian doctors, provided medical treatment to some 315 Iraqis Nov. 20.

Members of the Marine Expeditionary Unit Service Support Group 11, 11th MEU (Special Operations Capable) and soldiers of Detachment 1, Company C, 451st Civil Affairs Battalion, gave hygiene classes to attendees and explained its importance in maintaining health and preventing disease.

The instructors gave the Iraqi participants food, water and gifts, including 600 backpacks filled with school supplies, miscellaneous toys and hygiene items.

The humanitarian assistance operation was the 11th MEU's second in the area, officials said. The previous mission, on Nov. 12, provided medical and dental treatment to 115 Iraqis.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq news releases.)

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