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Combined Security Forces Help Iraqi Citizens During Operation Arrowhead Ripper

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 24, 2007 – Combined security forces began providing humanitarian assistance yesterday in Baqubah, Iraq, in addition to combat aimed at rooting out al Qaeda, during the fifth day of the Operation Arrowhead Ripper.

Iraqi security forces and the 2nd Infantry Division’s 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team delivered three truckloads of rice, flour and school supplies to Baqouba residents. In total, Iraqi soldiers distributed 20,000 pounds of rice and flour, along with 300 cases of water, to an estimated 1,500 Baqouba residents. The provisions were dropped off within 96 hours of beginning combat operations.

“The mission was a success largely due to the compassion of the Iraqi soldiers who led the mission,” said Army Lt. Col. Fred Johnson, deputy commanding officer of the Stryker brigade combat team.

Johnson said the U.S. “soldiers provided outer security, but the Iraqi army and police did the heavy lifting passing out the food and water and also provided local security. I think it's important to note that it was the Iraqi soldiers who first identified the need to provide food to the locals after talking to the citizens about their situation. Many of the locals were especially appreciative because food had been scarce when al Qaeda controlled the neighborhoods."

Since the beginning of Operation Arrowhead Ripper, combined forces have killed at least 58 al Qaeda operatives, detained 40 others, discovered 16 weapons caches, destroyed 28 improvised explosive devices and 12 booby-trapped structures, military officials said.

In the Khatoon neighborhood yesterday, soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Division’s 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team discovered a safe house identified by locals in the area as an illegal courthouse used by al Qaeda. During an investigation, troop discovered documents confirming al Qaeda uses the home to prosecute innocent Iraqis.

The building was located near a suspected torture house that contained saws, drills, explosives and blood stains in several rooms. After securing the area June 22, the torture house and its contents were destroyed by an attack helicopter armed with Hellfire missiles.

In Khatoon that day, coalition forces destroyed two houses that contained 45 water heaters filled with homemade explosives, improvised explosive device-making materials and computer equipment. One of the houses also contained several booby trapped freezers.

In Baqubah June 22, ground forces discovered and destroyed a weapons cache near two improvised explosive device sites containing pipe bombs and hand grenades.

Iraqi police were conducting security operations in and around the village of Khalis when coalition attack helicopters from the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade and ground forces from 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, observed 15-20 armed men attempting to circumvent the Iraqi police members s and infiltrate the village.

The attack helicopters, armed with missiles, engaged and killed 17 al Qaeda gunmen and destroyed their vehicle.

(Compiled from Multinational Corps Iraq News Releases.)

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