Coalition Forces Continue to Disrupt al Qaeda in Iraq
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 6, 2007 Coalition forces killed six terrorists and detained 25 suspected terrorists during operations targeting al Qaeda in Iraq's operational networks in the Tigris River Valley and Kirkuk today.
Coalition forces conducted two raids in and around Tarmiyah targeting senior members of al Qaeda’s network in the northern belts around Baghdad. During one raid, three armed men drew their weapons when the ground forces approached them. Coalition forces engaged the three armed men, killing them. As the ground forces continued to secure the area, they observed two men, one who was carrying a rifle, maneuvering into position against them. Coalition forces engaged and killed both.
During the second raid, a man drew his pistol on coalition forces, who responded by engaging and killing the armed terrorist. Between the two raids, the ground forces detained seven suspected terrorists.
In other operations today:
-- Coalition forces used intelligence gained during operations Aug. 30 to capture a suspected close associate of al Qaeda senior leaders. The ground forces detained six additional suspected terrorists during the operations in Samarra and Tikrit.
-- Near Baqubah, coalition forces captured a suspected member of an al Qaeda cell believed to be responsible for attacks on coalition forces and Iraqi civilians. Intelligence reports indicate the cell member helped emplace snipers and used illegal checkpoints to kidnap civilians and hold them for ransom. Nine more individuals were detained for their alleged ties to the terrorist cell.
-- Iraqi special operations soldiers with U.S. Special Forces advisors were engaged by Shiia extremist militants in the Baghdad area. The extremists are part of a terrorist cell responsible for attacking local police and conducting illegal checkpoints to intimidate, extort and murder local citizens. When Iraqi and U.S. troops entered the area, they immediately came under fire from more than a dozen extremists firing from the rooftops of surrounding buildings. Iraqi and U.S. forces then responded with suppressive fire and directed aerial fires onto targeted buildings against the armed gunmen. Four buildings were damaged, including two enemy strongholds that sustained major damage and two surrounding buildings that sustained moderate damage.
-- Iraqi and coalition forces in Kirkuk detained one suspected terrorist during an operation targeting a car-bombing cell there.
"We want to cripple the al Qaeda in Iraq network, so it is unable to plan and execute vicious attacks against the Iraqi people," said Army Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman. "Each operation gives us better information with which to target and attack them."
Iraqi and coalition forces continued their pursuit of al Qaeda in northern Iraq by launching Operation Lightning Hammer II yesterday. The operation, involving about 14,000 Iraqi troops partnered with more than 12,000 coalition forces, is spearheaded by U.S. soldiers and Iraqi police forces stationed throughout Ninewah province. Attack helicopters, close-air support, Bradley fighting vehicles, Stryker vehicles and tanks compliment the combined effort to deny al Qaeda safe haven in Iraq.
"Al Qaeda cells were driven from Baqubah in Diyala (province) due to Operation Arrowhead Ripper in June and July and then pursued in the Diyala River Valley during Operation Lighting Hammer in August," said Army Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, commander of Task Force Lightning and Multinational Division North. "Our main goal with Lightning Hammer II is to continue to pursue and apply constant pressure to the terrorist cells operating in MNDN and destroy them where they attempt to hide."
Last night, Iraqi forces with coalition support targeted criminal elements in the Washash neighborhood in western Baghdad who were involved in murder, extortion of local citizens and attacks on local police. Coalition forces continue to stand with the government of Iraq in welcoming the commitment by Muqtada al-Sadr to stop attacks by his followers. It appears many members of the Jaysh al-Mahdi militia are fulfilling Sadr's pledge to stop attacks and reduce the violence, military officials said.
Earlier this week, coalition attack helicopters destroyed three vehicles and killed four insurgents after an attack on a U.S. combat patrol in Samarra on Sept. 4. Paratroopers from the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment were investigating an improvised explosive device when they received small-arms fire from unknown insurgents. Apache helicopters, which had been called in to assist, observed two white cars approaching the U.S. patrol, engaging the forces with small-arms fire. The helicopters destroyed the vehicles. Aircrews observing multiple secondary explosions after both exploded, indicating the presence of munitions.
The forces then searched the remains of the two vehicles and found an AK-47 rifle, two machine guns, a rocket-propelled grenade and a suicide vest. Four insurgents were killed in the attack, and one was wounded. As the paratroopers conducted their assessment, another vehicle approached with three men carrying AK-47s and a rocket-propelled-grenade launcher. The attack helicopters disabled the vehicle, but the occupants fled the scene. Upon searching the vehicle, soldiers discovered additional weapons, several black masks and explosives.
"Through decisive action, our forces quickly repelled this attack and revealed these insurgents for the cowards they are," said Army Col. Bryan Owens, commander of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. "Time after time, our paratroopers have successfully eliminated these threats using experience and superior training."
Elsewhere, soldiers from 2nd Iraqi Army Division captured a known key al Qaeda financier and his associate during an operation in Mosul on Sept. 3. Both men were positively identified as al Qaeda members, and one admitted that he is a key financier and negotiates with families for the release of victims kidnapped for extortion. Funds totaling over 250 million Iraqi dinar -- the equivalent of more than $200,000 -- as well as multiple identification cards and correspondence were found in the suspect’s vehicle.
"The capture of these men by the Iraqi army and loss of the financing they provided will be felt by all those who profit from kidnapping and crimes against the people of Nineveh province," said Army Lt. Col. Jeff Stewart, executive officer of 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. "Our brothers in the Iraqi security forces have struck a blow directly against the terrorists and criminals who threaten Iraqi citizens and the rule of law."
(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq and Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)