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Ongoing Operations in Iraq Net Insurgents, Weapons Caches

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 14, 2007 – Coalition officials in Iraq reported today continued success by U.S., coalition and Iraqi troops in capturing terrorists and destroying weapons caches planned to support their operations.

In Risalah today, special Iraqi army forces elements detained 19 men during operations to capture an illegal armed group leader allegedly responsible for coordinating violent attacks against Iraqi civilians and coalition forces, officials said.

Iraqi forces, with coalition advisors, targeted a suspect who reportedly aids and coordinates the kidnapping and murder of innocent Iraqis, conducts makeshift bomb and mortar attacks against coalition forces, and traffics weapons in the area to

further sectarian violence and attacks against the Iraqi government.

In eastern Baghdad today, Multinational Division Baghdad troops captured 10 suspected insurgents, including a high-value target, officials said. Soldiers with the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team made the capture as part of “Operation Howard,” an effort to help the Iraqis secure the area.

The soldiers also recovered two grenades, multiple vests and machine guns with magazines.

Near Fallujah today, Iraqi army forces detained six men in two operations focused on capturing al Qaeda in Iraq members responsible for coordinating and aiding attacks against Iraqi and coalition forces.

The two Iraqi-led operations targeted suspects who reportedly facilitate makeshift bomb attacks from Baghdad to Fallujah and are involved in weapons trafficking, officials said.

Also today, Iraqi National Police and soldiers from Multinational Division Baghdad netted nine suspects as well as several weapons, ammunition and a makeshift bomb in Baghdad’s al-Doura district, military officials reported. The discovery resulted from operations aimed at disrupting activity by terrorists and illegally armed militias.

In central Baghdad, Iraqi army troops are continuing operations on North Haifa Street in the city’s Karkh district, officials reported.

The effort follows a Jan. 9 combined operation with Iraqi army and coalition forces to disrupt insurgent activity and restore Iraqi security force control of the area. Soldiers from the 1st Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, continue to hold a portion of North Haifa Street near Taleel Square, and so far have killed seven insurgents and detained three other suspects, officials said.

In Balad, Iraqi national police and Iraqi Special Forces captured three known insurgents today during a meeting at the Mahdi Mosque. Officials said the captured insurgents have been known to use prayer times as a cover for planning attacks against Iraqi and coalition forces.

The U.S. 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, stood ready to assist the Iraqi forces with a quick reaction force, but their assistance was not needed, officials said.

Yesterday, Iraqi security forces led a joint raid on an insurgent stronghold and detained eight insurgents in Al Haswah.

The Iraqi-led raid targeted a suspected insurgent safe house believed used to attack Iraqi and coalition forces, and store munitions and bomb-making materials. The safe house was destroyed to prevent future attacks. In addition to the eight suspects, the raid netted propaganda material, homemade explosive materials, a rifle and a bomb transport truck.

In Tal Afar, four were killed and a cache of weapons seized Jan. 11 after members of the Iraqi police received small-arms fire in the city and fought back against the insurgents. Soldiers from C Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, also responded to the call, officials reported.

A rocket-propelled grenade, rocket boosters and 60mm mortars were seized and destroyed by an explosive ordinance disposal team.

In Balad on Jan. 12, special Iraqi army forces and Iraqi national police detained

the imam of the al-Mahdi Mosque during operations targeting suspected illegal armed group figures involved in kidnapping, murder and other violent crimes against Iraqi civilians, officials reported. Coaliton forces advisors assisted in the operation.

The imam is suspected of leading the group and condoning the killing of men, women and children and other illegal activity through the issuance of fatwas, officials said. He allegedly allows use of the mosque as a base of operations for the group and as a place for interrogations, torture and murder.

No damage to the mosque occurred during the operation and no Iraqi civilians, Iraqi forces or coalition forces were reported injured.

Near Tikrit on Jan. 12, soldiers of the 4th Iraqi Army Division working with coalition advisors captured an insurgent responsible for providing funds, weapons and supplies to insurgent cells, officials reported.

The insurgent also aids bombing attacks on security forces in the Tikrit area by providing insurgent cells with explosives and components used to make bombs, officials said.

In al Doura on Jan. 12, Iraqi special security force members captured two leaders of an insurgent cell during operations with coalition advisers. Officials said the captured insurgents are allegedly responsible for coordinating and conducting car bombing attacks against Iraqi civilians in Sadr City. They also are implicated in carrying out other car bombing and makeshift bomb attacks on Iraqi security forces in the Baghdad area.

In Ramadi, officials said a month-long operation that recently wrapped up netted 31 caches of weapons, explosives, and ammunition, while gaining the support of four more tribes in the city. During “Operation Squeeze Play,” 44 enemy combatants were killed and 172 suspected insurgents were detained.

The operation, which began Dec. 1, was carried out by Iraqi army soldiers and police and U.S. soldiers and Marines. Operating in central Ramadi and areas north and east of the city, they helped clear out known anti-Iraqi safe havens and led to the establishment of four Iraqi police sub-stations, officials said.

The operation resulted in the seizure of hundreds of weapons and explosives, including mortar systems, mortar rounds, explosives, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, rifles, grenades, mines, artillery rounds, rockets and other items used to attack Ramadi's security forces and civilians.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq news releases.)

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