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Troops Kill 20 Suspected Terrorists, Nab 16

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23, 2008 – Coalition and Iraqi forces killed 20 suspected terrorists, detained 16 others and destroyed several weapons caches in Iraq during the past two days, military officials said.

Troops sought an alleged leader of the Diyala province terrorist network today in an operation north of Baqouba. As coalition forces arrived at the target area, they saw enemy personnel move into fighting positions. The ground force called supporting aircraft to engage the hostile force, killing 10 suspected terrorists.

As coalition forces continued to clear the area, they called for occupants to exit the target building, but occupants inside failed to comply with the request. Several terrorists maneuvered toward coalition forces, who engaged, killing three suspected terrorists, military officials said.

Troops discovered and destroyed two weapons caches containing improvised explosive devices, machine guns, artillery and mortar rounds, military-style assault vests, rocket-propelled grenades and propellant, and ammunition.

“Iraqi and coalition forces are committed to ending the terror of al Qaeda in Iraq and creating a safer country for all Iraqis,” said Army Maj. Winfield Danielson, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman.

In Mosul this morning, troops detained 13 suspected terrorists in two coordinated raids targeting associates of al Qaeda in Iraq senior leadership. Coalition forces also nabbed two suspects in Baghdad while targeting a terrorist involved in improvised-explosive-device attacks.

“These successful operations are another step forward in purging al Qaeda networks from Iraq,” Danielson said. “As terrorists shift their operations and locations, we will continue to find them, drive them out of their hiding places, and bring them to justice. Al Qaeda will find no safe haven in Iraq.”

East of Samarra near the Hamrin Mountains yesterday, coalition forces targeted an alleged al Qaeda in Iraq member involved in terrorist media and propaganda operations, military officials said. The suspect reportedly is associated with numerous al Qaeda in Iraq senior leaders and has been linked by military officials to a suspect detained Jan. 21 for his involvement in terrorist networks in Tarmiyah and Baghdad.

During the operation, troops confirmed the presence of several armed men maneuvering in the target area and fired multiple warning shots in an attempt to get the men to stop. The men refused the warnings, and coalition forces killed the five suspected terrorists.

Troops yesterday targeted an alleged leader for the al Qaeda in Iraq network operating in the Diyala province. The prime suspect is believed to be an improvised-explosive-device specialist involved in IED and suicide-vest attacks in the region, military officials said. Reports also indicate the individual has ties to several al Qaeda in Iraq senior leaders.

As troops arrived in the target area, they observed several people reaching for weapons. Coalition forces fired warning shots in an attempt to get the men to cease their actions, but they did not comply. Ground forces engaged, killing two terrorists, including the wanted individual. The ground force discovered improvised explosive devices and grenades, which they safely destroyed along with a suspicious vehicle.

In an operation last night and early this morning near Samarra, troops captured a suspect believed to be involved in foreign terrorist-facilitation networks in the region. Reports indicate the suspected terrorist is associated with the al Qaeda in Iraq senior leader in Samarra. Military officials also connected the detainee to a suspect captured Jan. 18 for his role in facilitating foreign fighters’ missions, including using his residence as a safe haven for al Qaeda in Iraq members and foreign terrorists.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq news releases.)

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