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Numbers Down, But Insurgent Attacks Continue

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 27, 2003 – Though the number of attacks by insurgents in Iraq continues the decline it has shown since mid-September, the coalition isn't ready to say the trend will continue.

At a Baghdad press conference today, Army Brig. Gen. Mark T. Kimmitt, deputy director of operations for Combined Joint Task Force 7, pointed out that in mid-September, there were as many as 50 attacks on coalition forces per day. "In the last 24 hours, we've only had 14 attacks," he noted. "The number is ranging around 14 to 15 per day. So with the exception of the minor spike we had on Christmas Day, when there were 18, the numbers are going down."

But the general quickly added, "That doesn't mean they can't start going up next week. We don't think today is a good prediction of what will happen tomorrow."

Kimmitt said about 3 p.m. local time Dec. 26, three attacks were conducted in the vicinity of Karbala. "The first attack against the coalition logistics base was initiated by two improvised explosive devices followed by a small-arms attack," the general said. "In that attack, 15 soldiers were wounded. At about the same time, a coalition battle group base camp was attacked with an improvised explosive device and mortars.

"We're aware of four coalition deaths and 15 wounded," he said. "Also, an improvised explosive device blew up in the vicinity of a military facility in Karbala, which was collocated with an Iraqi police station. Five U.S. soldiers were wounded. Three of the soldiers are in local facilities, and two have been evacuated to a U.S. combat support hospital.

As of 4:30 p.m. Dec. 26, Kimmitt said, the officials were aware of 37 coalition soldiers wounded and four killed in action in the attacks near Karbala.

The terrorists don't discriminate between combatants and civilians or between soldiers and women and children, Kimmitt noted. "On Christmas Day, we had about 18 attacks in the space of two hours," he pointed out. "Clearly these were attacks conducted by terrorists who try to grab headlines, try to demonstrate their strength. But I think what they really showed is that they would use any method, any technique to terrorize the good people of Baghdad and the people of Iraq.

"We're not going back to war; however, we'll continue to be on the offensive against anti-coalition elements that will attack us and (against) enemies of the Iraqi people," the general said.

"The coalition continues offensive operations to maintain a safe and secure environment," Kimmitt noted. The coalition conducted 1,254 patrols, 23 offensive operations and nine raids today, and captured "numerous" anti- coalition suspects in the 24 hours before today's briefing, he said.

Noting that enemy attacks against Iraqi citizens continue, Kimmitt said a provincial council member and his son were killed in Mosul on Dec. 26, and the council member's brother was wounded.

Two rockets detonated near a major bridge and oil refinery with no damage or casualties. Coalition forces searched the area and found six improvised rocket launchers responsible for the attacks, he said.

In the north-central zone of operations, coalition forces conducted 160 patrols and captured five enemy personnel during a raid. Coalition forces also captured two people attempting to avoid a traffic control point in Kirkuk yesterday. Seven million dinars were discovered in a false trunk of their vehicle, Kimmitt said.

Coalition forces captured four people during a raid who are suspected of bombing attacks against the coalition.

Kimmitt said in Baghdad, Operation Iron Grip continues. On Dec. 24, the 1st Armored Division launched its largest single-day operation since April, capturing 66 enemy personnel, 13 of whom were targeted individuals. The targets included two generals, one with close ties to the former regime's senior leadership. One has ties to a terrorist organization, Kimmitt said.

Two bomb-makers suspected of bomb attacks against coalition soldiers and Iraqis also have been captured. Coalition soldiers also captured a religious leader connected to a large terrorist organization, three former regime sub-planners, two former regime planners, a financier of former regime cells, a former Iraqi intelligence service colonel and one of Saddam Hussein's son's bodyguards. Numerous weapons, arms and bomb-making apparatus also were confiscated, the general said.

"Eighteen attacks were attempted against coalition forces during that same time period," Kimmitt noted. "But all of the attacks were ineffective, except to grab headlines. No coalition soldiers were injured and only one Iraqi civilian was hurt. Although the enemy had advertised a large-scale offensive, the attacks were benign."

Coalition forces conducted an air strike near Khalidiyah on Dec. 26 on a suspected terrorist launching site. Air Force F-16 fighters from the 510th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron dropped two joint direct-attack munitions, or JDAM, bombs to destroy an abandoned two-story house.

"The location was suspected of being the launch site for six separate attacks on coalition forces," Kimmitt noted. "The target was destroyed, and no collateral damage was reported."

Eight enemy personnel were captured by coalition forces Dec. 26 during what Kimmitt called a "cordon and search to kill or capture" mission east of Ramadi. One insurgent was wounded during a firefight and was captured and evacuated by air to the 28th Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad. Two AK-47 assault rifles, a computer and a scanner were confiscated.

In the central-south region, coalition forces were attacked by bombs and small- arms fire. "Two coalition soldiers were wounded and transported to the 28th Combat Support Hospital, and they're in stable condition," Kimmitt said.

Acting on a tip provided by local Iraqi citizens, coalition forces conducted a Dec. 26 raid and detained an enemy combatant suspected of bomb attacks in Kut. Numerous weapons and bomb-making material were confiscated.

The general noted that until recently, there were only one to two daily attacks on Iraqi civilians. "About a month ago, we started seeing a shift where those numbers started to increase to about two or three per day," Kimmitt said. "Those are improvised explosive device attacks against civilians. To a great extent, it shows what we believe to be the desperation of the terrorists to try to maintain their grip on the Iraqi civilians. They want to demonstrate that they're retaining some sort of control and capability to reach out and touch them."

Recently announced hazardous duty pay has had a significant impact on recruiting for the Iraqi police service, according to Kimmitt. He said 117 new police officers graduated from the interim police academy in Mosul, and 10 additional officers graduated from a special-reaction team course yesterday.

Ninety-four Iraqi boarder police cadets graduated from training in Asad. This brings the total of Iraqi border police in the 82nd Airborne Division region to 672. In addition, 175 Iraqi Civil Defense Corps recruits begin training Dec. 28.

In Kut, 99 border police graduated Dec. 27, bringing the total of Iraqi border police in the central-south region to 415.

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