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Samarra Citizens Support Iraqi Commando Operations

American Forces Press Service

SAMARRA, Iraq, March 11, 2005 – In the days since Iraqi forces rolled in to sweep out insurgents, citizens here are showing support for the operation by streaming to local checkpoints to personally deliver information to help the mission along.

Citizens also are flooding the telephone lines to the office of Iraqi Gen. Adnan Thabit, security adviser to the Ministry of Interior, to express their gratitude for the show of force and tips on insurgent activity.

More than 1,500 members of Iraqi police forces -- police commandos, a local public order battalion and local police forces -- arrived in the city March 4. Iraqi-led patrols have netted more than 80 suspects so far, officials said.

"The people of Samarra used to be afraid of the anti-Iraqi forces," said Iraqi Gen. Rashid, commander of the 1st Brigade police commandos. "They couldn't tell us any information. Now their fear is gone."

Rashid said one citizen offered information about 17 targets, and in some cases, citizens personally led force members to suspects.

"Citizens say when we see the commandos work hard, we want to bring information about the terrorists," Rashid said.

Of the suspects in custody, officials have confirmed 38 as active anti-Iraqi fighters. Three have been identified as leaders of a terrorist cell in Samarra responsible for the deaths of 11 Iraqi police officers, seven Iraqi soldiers, three interpreters and two contractors, officials said. In addition, two primary leaders confessed their roles in burning Iraqi citizens' homes, building two improvised explosive devices that hit U.S. tanks and three other IEDs that hit U.S. Humvees.

"The success of the police and the patrols is not enough," Adnan said, adding that he also wants to bring feelings of safety and security back to the people of Samarra.

Rashid said he will be leaving additional forces in place to maintain security and assist local Samarra police when the operation draws to a close.

(From a Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq news release.)

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