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U.S. Forces Wield 'Iron Hammer' to Nail Insurgents

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 13, 2003 – A series of coordinated strikes dubbed "Operation Iron Hammer" kicked off Nov. 12 with U.S. forces striking back at anti-coalition insurgents in Iraq.

A U.S. Central Command news release today said Iron Hammer is a joint operation to target enemy operating areas, deny the enemy the opportunity to stage weapons for use against coalition forces and the citizens of Baghdad, and destroy enemy forces conducting mortar attacks against Baghdad.

The first salvo came when 1st Armored Division soldiers saw mortar rounds being fired from a van and gave chase, noting stops it made. An AH-64 Apache helicopter followed the van out of the village and attacked it, killing two suspected insurgents and wounding three others. Five others were captured. Soldiers found an 82 mm mortar launch tube at one of the van's stops, and are searching the others, CENTCOM officials said.

About a half hour later, near Sadia, an AC-130 Spectre gunship and about a dozen Bradley fighting vehicles destroyed a warehouse insurgents had been using as a headquarters for some strikes against coalition forces. A Defense Department- issued statement said the warehouse was "a known meeting, planning, storage and rendezvous point for belligerent elements currently conducting attacks on coalition forces and infrastructure."

Other ongoing operations continue to target insurgents and uncover weapons caches. Soldiers of Task Force All American composed of members of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, 1st Brigade Combat Team, and 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment conducted 167 patrols in a 24-hour period Nov. 11-12. The force detained 25 people and confiscated weapons and explosives, including six surface-to-air missiles.

In a series of overnight raids Nov. 11, 101st Airborne Division soldiers captured 20 people suspected of violence against coalition forces including four suspects in the deaths Nov. 1 of two division soldiers who had been working with Mosul's mayor. CENTCOM officials said in a news release today that local Iraqi citizens provided the information that led to the suspects' capture, and that members of the Iraqi police force and the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps are working with the soldiers.

Paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment put down a Nov. 11 attack against the Jordanian Hospital and Forward Operating Base Volturno in Fallujah. Responding to automatic-weapons fire from a vehicle near the hospital, soldiers returned fire, preventing the fleeing attackers from getting into another vehicle.

The paratroopers fired warning shots when a third vehicle approached at high speed. When the vehicle didn't slow down, the soldiers shot and killed the two occupants, and then returned fire when attacked from another car. In all, the soldiers killed six attackers and wounded four others, who were evacuated for medical treatment. None of the soldiers was hurt.

Iraqi children on Nov. 11 led 101st soldiers to two improvised explosive devices in Mosul, and the soldiers found a third before it exploded, CENTCOM reported today. The same day, officials said, an Iraqi civilian turned in 68 rocket-propelled grenades, 96 anti-tank and 16 anti- personnel RPG warheads, and 107 RPG propellant charges to division headquarters in Mosul. Iraqi citizens also led 18th Military Police Brigade to a weapons cache.

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