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Second Night of Iron Hammer Continues Crackdown

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 14, 2003 – Army and Air Force aircraft reportedly pounded insurgent staging and operating facilities and killed seven people preparing an attack on U.S. forces during the second night of Operation Iron Hammer in Iraq.

According to news reports, an Army AH-64 Apache helicopter attacked and killed seven men believed to have been preparing a rocket attack on a U.S. military base near Tikrit. Soldiers later reportedly found hundreds of rockets and missiles at the site.

U.S. Central Command reported today that Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon jets overnight destroyed a building used by terrorists for munitions storage and as a staging area in Husayba, near the Syrian border. Officials said the jets used two joint direct-attack munitions "to limit collateral damage and complete the destruction of the target."

Other news reports say an Air Force AC-130 Spectre gunship destroyed a building that had sheltered terrorists firing on U.S. forces for several days.

Soldiers from the Army's 101st Airborne Division reportedly captured 14 suspected terrorists in Mosul. News reports say the cell's leader is believed to have been plotting to kill a senior coalition official. Three others believed to have attacked U.S. forces were arrested separately, according to news reports.

Attacks against Americans in Iraq continued overnight and today.

A U.S. civilian contractor was killed and another was injured Nov. 13 west of Balad, about 45 miles north of Baghdad, when their convoy was attacked. And at least five U.S. soldiers were injured by roadside bombs in southern Baghdad and Mosul Nov. 13 and this morning, according to news reports. Three other soldiers were trying to defuse a roadside bomb today in northwest Baghdad when the bomb exploded, and early eyewitness accounts were unclear as to whether the soldiers were injured or killed, news reports said.

CENTCOM reported today that three Army paratroopers from Task Force All American were wounded in a rocket attack east of Fallujah. One was treated at the scene and returned to duty, while the others were taken to the 28th Combat Support Hospital. One was in serious condition, CENTCOM officials said. Soldiers from the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, 1st Brigade Combat Team, and 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment make up this task force.

The command also reported today that hundreds of CENTCOM headquarters staff members will augment the command's forward headquarters in Qatar. Though most of the command's 2,000-member headquarters staff is remaining at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., the added manpower in Qatar will support the theater's operational commanders and Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, CENTCOM commander, as he travels in the region. Numbers of staff at the forward headquarters have ebbed and flowed with various operations and exercises, command officials said in a statement announcing the Qatar augmentation.

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