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Coalition Continues Operations to Restore Stability

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 24, 2004 – The U.S.-led coalition in Iraq continues operations to restore stability in order to repair infrastructure, stimulate the economy and continue the transfer of sovereignty to the people of Iraq.

"To that end, in the past 24 hours the coalition conducted 2,021 patrols, 22 offensive operations, 55 Air Force and Navy sorties, and captured 55 anti- coalition suspects," Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said today.

During a news briefing in Baghdad, the deputy director for coalition operations detailed recent military activity throughout Iraq.

In the northern area of operations, he said, on May 24 an Iraqi policeman was killed during a drive-by shooting in Mosul and another killed in a checkpoint attack west of Qaiyara.

In the north-central zone, a coalition patrol detained an individual after a house raid on a house northeast of Samarra seeking a suspect from a May 19 convoy attack. The patrol also netted 11 AK-47 assault rifles, two sniper rifles, two pounds of homemade plastic explosives, and other small arms and ammunition.

In Baghdad, activity continues in Sadr City. Thirty anti-coalition personnel fired small-arms at an Iraqi police station May 23. Coalition forces returned fire, and as a quick-reaction force was dispatched to assist, two rocket- propelled-grenade rounds exploded in their vicinity, damaging one vehicle. Later that evening, anti-coalition forces attacked a coalition patrol in Sadr City with RPG and small-arms fire. No coalition soldiers were injured, Kimmitt said.

In the western zone, coalition and Iraqi security forces continue to maintain security in the western Anbar province. The area remains quiet except in the Ramadi-Fallujah corridor and Kharma areas. "Raids conducted over the past three weeks have disrupted the enemy's ability to support movement of drugs, weapons and foreign fighters across the zone," Kimmitt noted.

Coalition operations also "have saturated the outlying areas and have disrupted enemy operations, denied the enemy sanctuary and increased intelligence collections," he said. "Coalition forces continue to discover weapons caches at an accelerated pace, resulting in a reduction in the number and effectiveness of anti-coalition attacks in Al Anbar."

Coalition forces conducted a series of offensive operations May 22 against radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's militia in the central-south zone of operations.

In Karbala, coalition forces cleared three objectives with minimal enemy contact. Local residents reported that the remainder of Muqtada's militia had appeared to have withdrawn. "Since then Iraqi police have begun patrolling the city, and it would appear that life -- normal life is returning to the city of Karbala, absent the militia that had been holding the city hostage for so many weeks," Kimmitt said.

In Najaf and Kufa, he said, coalition forces on the eastern side of the Euphrates received mortars, RPG and small-arms fires May 21 from the west side of the Kufa bridge, in the vicinity of the Saddam palace and the technical college of Kufa. Three- to five-man RPG teams engaged coalition forces from rooftops and fighting positions.

"Coalition forces responded, killing a number of Muqtada militia and destroying two 120 mm mortars, one pickup truck loaded with an unknown number of mortar rounds, and a 57 mm antiaircraft gun near the palace," he said.

Later that night in Kufa, coalition forces also cordoned the Shalah mosque while Iraqi counterterrorism forces entered and secured the site. The Iraqi forces found a significant weapons cache and captured 10 Muqtada militia, including a suspected commander.

"Even though aerial reconnaissance observed mortar rounds and mortar tubes being loaded into a truck inside the Kufa mosque compound and armed individuals exiting the Kufa mosque," Kimmitt said, coalition forces did not engage the mosque complex to ensure that the local holy shrines were not damaged.

In the southeastern zone, local tribal members fired mortars and small arms at the Iraqi police station in Al-Dur. Two Iraqi police were wounded and two children were killed.

Iraqi Civil Defense Corps members conducted checkpoints north and south of the village to prevent the escape of the attackers. Coalition forces later regained control over the situation and searched the nearby village for the perpetrators of the attack, Kimmitt said.

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Multinational Force Iraq

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