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Iraq Raids Net Terrorists, Weapons; Sheiks, U.S. Leaders Meet

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 15, 2007 – Thirteen suspected al Qaeda operatives were captured during Iraq operations yesterday and today. Meanwhile, about 50 tribal leaders from the Muqdadiya Qada in Diyala province, Iraq, gathered at the governor’s house yesterday to discuss security, services and the importance of unity with U.S. and Iraqi military leaders, officials reported.

At the meeting, Diyala Gov. Ra’ad Hameed Al-Mula Jowad Al-Tamimi, together with Staff Maj. Gen. Abdul Kareem, commander of Iraqi Security Forces in Diyala; and Col. David W. Sutherland, commander of coalition forces in Diyala, stressed the influence tribal leaders have on their people.

“We came here to achieve something great, and this great thing is your tribal influence on your people,” said Kareem.

“I have seen the greatness of the sheiks,” said Sutherland, “I have seen the greatness they can bring. The courage of the tribes is based on the courage of the sheiks, many of whom are disgusted and disillusioned by the hatred al Qaeda brings.”

Citing examples from the Koran and Iraq’s history, Kareem emphasized that “everybody in Diyala is supposed to be united – to work as one hand fighting the enemy.”

Toward that end, U.S. troops detained 13 suspected terrorists during July 14-15 operations that targeted al Qaeda in Iraq leaders and suppliers.

“We’re continuing to conduct operations that target specific links in the al Qaeda in Iraq chain, to ultimately destroy the network,” said Maj. Marc Young, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman.

Coalition forces captured two suspected terrorists today during a morning operation southwest of Baghdad. One of the men allegedly has close ties to the al Qaeda in Iraq emir of the Southern Belts. He also is believed to be involved in kidnappings and attacks against Iraqi and U.S. forces as well as civilians.

Coalition forces also captured two targeted individuals southwest of Baghdad today. The men, who are brothers, are suspected of involvement with a weapons dealer and foreign terrorist facilitator who supplies al Qaeda in Iraq with weapons and operatives.

North of Baghdad, U.S. troops targeted a suspected terrorist involved in planning chlorine vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attacks. The ground forces detained six others on the scene for their alleged connections to the bomber.

Coalition forces conducted a precision raid yesterday near Samarra and captured an alleged foreign terrorist facilitator and logistician suspected of supplying al Qaeda cells with operatives and suicide bombers. After U.S. troops cornered the suspect and two of his associates, the three fled into a nearby house. The troops yelled for the house’s occupants to come out, and several women and children exited the building. The ground forces moved them away from danger, then entered the house, where they detained the three suspected terrorists.

In other news, two Iraqis were killed and five more wounded when insurgents detonated a vehicle-borne IED yesterday in the Rusafa district of eastern Baghdad. Soldiers with the 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, and the 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, both attached to the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, responded to the blast and sealed off the area. Five wounded Iraqis were transported to the Kimene Hospital for treatment. Ten vehicles were destroyed in the blast.

Also, elements of the Iraqi police detained the leader of an al Qaeda cell in Samarra that facilitates the manufacture of IEDs and explosively formed penetrators during an intelligence-driven operation July 13. The detainee, allegedly responsible for an attack on a convoy that killed a U.S. soldier, was detained without incident. He is reportedly in charge of a 50-member al Qaeda terror network and is directly involved with an EFP factory in Samarra.

A second suspect was also detained. Weapons, ammunition, a computer, identification cards, passports and 3 million dinars in Iraqi money were confiscated.

One U.S. soldier was slightly injured during the operation as the result of an IED strike.

Additionally, U.S. troops found a cache and captured 13 suspected insurgents during raids in eastern Baghdad July 13. Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, detained five suspects and recovered two rocket-propelled grenade launchers, three grenades and one IED. The soldiers, from Fort Riley, Kan., were operating in the New Baghdad District of the Iraqi capital.

In a separate raid, soldiers with 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery detained eight suspected insurgents in the Zafarniya district. The Fort Carson, Colo.-based troops also recovered circuit boards, wires, timers, soldering tools and 9 million Iraqi dinars.

Also, U.S. soldiers responded to an attack comprised of numerous IEDs that severely damaged a school in northern Baghdad July 13. Soldiers with 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division responded to the attack, shortly after 6 a.m. The explosions were heard and seen coming from the Al Malahma School, less than a mile west of Camp Taji. The school building was part of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers initiative to improve the educational infrastructure in the area. Al Qaeda extremists are believed to be responsible for damaging the school, officials said.

And, U.S. Special Forces and Iraqi security forces detained an alleged high-level al Qaeda in Iraq terrorist cell leader July 13 at Baghdad International Airport. The alleged cell leader surrendered without a struggle and is currently in U.S. custody for questioning. He reportedly has targeted coalition forces, distributed mortars and organized and ordered vehicle-borne IED attacks. He is believed to operate in Baghdad’s Karh district as well as the Mahmudiyah and the Arab Jabour districts. No Iraqi or coalition troops were injured during the operations.

In other news, elements of the 4th Iraqi Army Brigade detained the leader of a terrorist sniper cell during an intelligence-driven operation in Bayji July 12. The suspect allegedly is responsible for leading attacks against Iraqi and U.S. forces, including attacks against the joint security site in downtown Bayji. Two other people also were detained. One other member of this cell was captured last month. Iraqi forces, with U.S. special operations forces as advisors, also confiscated an AK-47 rifle, ammunition and computer equipment. No Iraqi or coalition forces were injured.

Also, an Iraqi citizen who has been working with coalition forces during the past week led U.S. troops to two caches July 12 in Qarghuli Village, a known terrorist safe haven. The local resident accompanied soldiers of the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment “Polar Bears,” 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), out of Fort Drum, N.Y., on a dismounted patrol in the village and led them to the caches. The caches consisted of a rack system, video camera, 61mm fuse, spool of command wire used to make IEDs, 44 Dragonov sniper rounds and a 155mm round. During the past few days, the Iraqi residents have led the Polar Bears to more than 14 caches in the village.

In other news, insurgents launched nine indirect fire attacks into Baghdad neighborhoods July 12 and 13 as Iraqi and U.S. troops continue to seek out and destroy these cells. On July 12, mortars impacted in the Masafee, Zubaida and Saydiyah neighborhoods of the Rashid district. The al-Diyala neighborhood in Karadah also was attacked with mortars. The following day, four more indirect-fire attacks hit Baghdad civilian neighborhoods. The Zubaida and Baladiat neighborhoods received indirect fire from insurgents and the Amin neighborhood was hit in two separate attacks.

Meanwhile, Iraqi and U.S. soldiers nabbed 46 men suspected of involvement with al Qaeda affiliated terror networks July 12, east of Lutifiyah. Troops of the 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division; and the 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), air assaulted in the area under the cover of darkness. They searched reeds along canals for weapons caches, ultimately netting 29 men on the Iraqi army’s list of persons of interest, and 14 others identified as terrorists. Three other suspects were taken for questioning.

Also, U.S. troops put an enemy rocket position out of commission during a July 12 operation. After several rockets hit Forward Operating Base Hammer July 11, the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team maneuvered to find the source of the attack. Early July 12, the 3rd HBCT’s unmanned aerial vehicle located 46 rocket launchers in the northern section of Besmaya Range Complex next to the base aimed at FOB Hammer. Thirty-four of the launchers were armed with Iranian 107mm rockets. Soldiers of the 789th Explosive Ordnance Disposal team, currently attached to the 3rd HBCT, immediately responded to the site. They determined that the rockets originated from Iran and neutralized the remaining rockets.

Al Qaeda in Iraq sustained another blow when Iraqi and U.S. troops using tips from local citizens targeted al Qaeda operatives outside Diyala's provincial capital July 11. Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army Division, and 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat

Team, 1st Cavalry Division, conducted Operation Ithaca, targeting al Qaeda operatives near the villages of Haimer, Abu Nasim, and Jamil. The operation resulted in 29 al-Qaida gunmen killed, 23 detained, eight hostages released, two weapons caches discovered and a safe house destroyed.

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