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Despite Attacks, Soldiers Continue Crackdown on Insurgents

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 21, 2003 – Though some attacks against them continue to take place, U.S. soldiers and Iraqi security forces continue to round up insurgents and their weapons.

Rockets apparently launched from donkey carts struck the Iraqi oil ministry and two hotels used by Westerners in Baghdad today, according to news reports. An Iraqi civilian was arrested in connection with the attacks, reports said.

One man reportedly was injured, but his condition and the nature of his injuries are unknown. The oil ministry was closed, as Friday is a Muslim day of prayer. U.S. soldiers and Iraqi security forces later reportedly found two more rocket launchers on donkey carts. The weapons apparently had not been fired, news reports said.

A U.S. military official in Iraq reportedly said the attacks appeared intended to attract media attention.

Meanwhile, soldiers from 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment captured 16 people who were trying to plant improvised explosive devices today, U.S. Central Command officials said. Besides the IEDs, the insurgents had mortar systems, mortar rounds, and rocket-propelled and conventional grenades, officials said.

One suspect provided information on more weapons during questioning, the command reported. The information led soldiers to four 60 mm mortars, eight machine guns, 21 AK-47 assault rifles, another assault rifle, 34 PG-7 anti-tank rounds, 29 artillery rounds of various sizes, several crates of grenades, 28 prepared IEDs, more than 13,000 rounds of ammunition, and various other munitions, officials said.

CENTCOM also reported today that soldiers from 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment found another weapons cache in a Ramadi field Nov. 20. They found 32 120 mm rounds, 286 82 mm mortar rounds, 77 60 mm mortar rounds, 28 RPGs, high-explosive anti-tank rounds, two heavy machine guns, demolition equipment, and more than 1,500 82 mm mortar propellant charges.

Also on Nov. 20, paratroopers from 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment conducted an air-assault cordon-and-search operation northeast of Fallujah. They captured 37 people and confiscated small-arms weapons, Jordanian and Syrian currency, fake identification cards and communication equipment, CENTCOM officials said.

Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment captured a woman and her six sons in a Nov. 20 cordon-and-search operation in Fallujah, Central Command officials said. The woman is believed to be the leader and her sons the members of a cell responsible for anti-coalition attacks, including one on a civilian convoy near Fallujah that killed two government contractors.

An 82nd Airborne Division soldier was killed and two others were wounded Nov. 20 when their convoy was attacked with two IEDs east of Ramadi, CENTCOM officials said. The wounded soldiers were taken to the 28th Combat Support Hospital and were reported to be in stable condition. The soldiers' names are being withheld until their families are notified.

Combined Joint Task Force 7 officials in Iraq announced several 101st Airborne Division operations Nov. 20 that took place the previous day.

In northern Iraq, 43 helicopters carried almost 500 soldiers to an operation involving six objective areas in a remote southwestern region of the division's area of operations. Conducted by two battalions from the 327th Infantry Regiment, the operation included raids and searches, traffic-control points and blocking positions designed to deny passageways used by anti-coalition forces to infiltrate secure areas, officials said.

Soldiers captured 86 people and seized 49 AK-47s, four machine guns, one heavy machine gun, two sniper rifles, three complete RPG systems, 200 detonation devices, two pistols, 35,000 .50-caliber rounds, some 7.62 mm rounds and C4 plastic explosives, as well as identification papers and passports.

The 3rd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment conducted cordon-and-search operations in eastern Mosul and took 65 people into custody, including the city's main facilitator for the extremist group Ansar al-Islam.

Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment captured three former regime loyalists at a traffic-control point in northwest Mosul. The soldiers recognized their vehicle as one on a target list.

Seven other Iraqis were taken into custody for various anti-coalition activities. A coalition informant, suspected of passing information to subversive elements, was detained, as was a suspect found with an RPG sight and Baath Party propaganda during a cordon-and-search operation in central Mosul. Five were detained after they threw weapons out of their vehicle while passing U.S. soldiers.

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