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Coalition Forces Kill Four, Nab 37, Destroy Weapons in Iraq

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 21, 2008 – Coalition and Iraqi forces killed four suspected terrorists, detained 37 others and destroyed weapons caches in Iraq the past five days, military officials said.

During operations in Iraq today:

-- Coalition forces killed two suspected terrorists, detained three others and destroyed a weapons cache west of Muqdadiyah during a raid aimed at dismantling a terrorist network operating in the northeast Diyala River Valley region. Troops received credible intelligence indicating the site was an al Qaeda in Iraq meeting place, military officials said.

-- Troops captured two brothers north of Tarmiyah wanted for their alleged ties to the al Qaeda in Iraq network operating north of Baghdad. The network reportedly is responsible for carrying out attacks against coalition forces, beheadings, sniper and improvised-explosive-device-attacks and foreign terrorist facilitation. In addition to the targeted suspects, ground forces detained four suspects.

-- Coalition troops nabbed an individual in Tikrit suspected of transferring weapons on behalf a terrorist network in the area. The suspect is believed to be closely associated with the al Qaeda in Iraq leader and other terrorists in the region. Military officials said. ground forces also detained another suspect on site.

-- Ground forces in Sharqat detained an associate of al Qaeda who reportedly was planning a large-scale attack against coalition and Iraqi forces, and local civilians in the Bayji area, military officials said. The wanted individual relocated to Sharqat from Bayji in an attempt to avoid capture by combined forces. Troops also nabbed three more suspected terrorists during the operation.

-- Coalition forces detained two suspected terrorists north in Mosul, including a wanted individual allegedly involved in the local al Qaeda in Iraq network. The suspect reportedly served as an “assassination officer” for a former al Qaeda in Iraq leader who was killed during a Dec. 25 operation.

-- Troops nabbed one suspected terrorist during an operation east of Samarra targeting al Qaeda in Iraq members associated with safe houses and meeting locations in the region, military officials said.

Elsewhere in Iraq today, Iraqi Special Operations Forces, with U.S. Special Forces advisers, killed an extremist brigade commander in the Aamel neighborhood of Baghdad.

When combined special operations forces entered the building where the extremist was located, a man darted into another room. After breaching the door, the assault force entered the room to detain him. The man attempted to grab a weapon and special operators killed the suspect, later identified as the wanted extremist commander, military officials said.

The commander allegedly controlled ten extremist groups operating within the Iraqi capital, and is responsible for attacks, murder, kidnappings and criminal activity against Iraqi security forces and civilians, military officials said. Credible intelligence indicates he and his group carried out the sectarian-based murders of several hundred Iraqis over the past year.

In Iraq yesterday, coalition air support hit more than 10 targets during a night air raid against suspected al Qaeda in Iraq safe havens in Arab Jabour.

The joint operation carried out by Air Force, Navy and Marine aircraft involved precision air strikes by F-18 fighter jets and B-1 bombers. Meanwhile, Air Force operators and soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division worked in coordination to prevent collateral damage, and to prevent use of any area for attacks on coalition forces, military officials said.

Yesterday’s raid follows the Jan. 16 and Jan. 10 air strikes in the same region which hit a combined total of 64 targets with a total weight of more than 80,000 pounds of bombs.

“The strikes that we conducted were focused on IEDs and caches that we have targeted, that will allow us to get our ground troops further into the zone,” Army Col. Terry Ferrell, 2nd BCT, 3rd Inf. Div. commander, said of yesterday’s air raid. “These targets, the IEDs specifically, are designed as part of the defensive belt to prevent our forces from entering into areas that we have not been before.”

The raid supported Operation Phantom Phoenix, the overarching operation that includes Operation Marne Thunderbolt, and is aimed at pursuing and defeating extremist elements throughout the country.

In central Iraq yesterday:

-- Coalition air support killed one terrorist near Mahmudiyah during an operation targeting an alleged associate of the al Qaeda in Iraq network operating south of Baghdad. Ground forces detained two suspects during the raid.

-- Coalition forces captured a suspected terrorist in Baghdad associated with the al Qaeda in Iraq network in Karkh. The suspect allegedly is an experienced improvised explosive device and car bomb facilitator, and is involved in terrorist activities across the Iraq, military officials said.

-- Troops nabbed an alleged associate of a senior level al Qaeda in Iraq foreign terrorist facilitator in the Iraqi capital. The suspect is believed to have close ties to numerous terrorist leaders in Baghdad and foreign terrorists operating in and outside of Iraq, military officials said. In addition to the wanted individual, the ground force detained two suspected terrorists on site.

-- During coordinated operations near Samarra, coalition forces detained two suspected terrorists, including an alleged al Qaeda in Iraq member involved in terrorist media and propaganda operations. Reports indicate the suspect is tied to al Qaeda in Iraq leadership from Samarra to Mosul, including the suspect detained Dec. 27 for his role in media operations and foreign terrorist facilitation, military officials said.

North of Jalula, Jan. 17-19, coalition forces conducted an operation targeting associates of the al Qaeda in Iraq network pushed from the northeast Diyala River Valley into the Hamrin mountain area. Ground forces detained 11 suspected terrorists and found and destroyed weapons a cache on site.

“We’re on the offensive against al-Qaeda and the foreign terrorists they bring into Iraq,” said Navy Capt. Vic Beck, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman. “We are committed to pursuing al-Qaeda in order to ensure security and stability for all of Iraq.”

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq news releases.)

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