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Iraqi Forces Continue to Build on Successes

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 18, 2006 – Iraqi forces captured two wanted men in separate early morning raids yesterday.

Iraqi soldiers in Ash Sharqat, Iraq, captured a facilitator of terrorist activity in that area. Soldiers from the 4th Iraqi Army Division, assisted by coalition advisers, conducted a precision raid and captured this facilitator, whose alleged involvement in fraud, local corruption and embezzlement provides support to terrorist operations in the area, U.S. officials said. He also is believed to be responsible for improvised explosive device attacks against coalition forces, including one attack that killed a U.S. soldier.

In another operation, Iraqi security forces, captured an insurgent weapons dealer in southeastern Baghdad. As coalition advisers looked on, a special Iraqi police unit conducted a precision operation in the Rasheed district and captured this individual, who is believed to transport weapons and supply them to insurgents in Baghdad. One insurgent was killed during the operation.

No Iraqi forces, coalition forces or civilians were injured in either operation.

The Baghdad operation was part of Operation Together Forward. Iraqi security and coalition forces are witnessing positive results of their efforts to quell the threat of terrorist death squads, improvised explosive devices, kidnappings and murders in and around Baghdad. Since the operation began July 9, combined forces have killed 97 and detained 501 terrorists associated with death squads and seized more than 59 weapons and munitions caches in the process.

A combined force of more than 30,000 security personnel have completed more than 49,564 combat patrols in response to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s directive to immediately secure the Baghdad area. While security operations aimed at ending violence are still ongoing, Iraqi and coalition leaders have set the stage for permanent changes in Iraq’s capital city by planning civil operations that will coincide with security operations.

Operation Together Forward has fused Iraqi army, Iraqi police and coalition security operations, economic incentives, civic action projects and the control of illegal weapons to bring stability and opportunity back to Baghdad, U.S. military officials said.

Elsewhere, soldiers from 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, rescued three kidnapped Iraqi policemen Aug. 16 during a small-arms engagement with terrorists in a rural area outside of Babil province. The freed Iraqi policemen reported being kidnapped from another checkpoint only minutes away from where the gunfight took place.

The Iraqi soldiers discovered the kidnap victims after they were attacked by small-arms fire from four vehicles passing by their checkpoint. They returned fire, capturing two of the vehicles. Soldiers examined the vehicles and found three police officers in the trunks, along with an AK-47 assault rifle and a rocket-propelled-grenade launcher. The kidnap victims indicated that two more officers were being held in the vehicles that fled.

In other news, more than 950 new Iraqi recruits will begin a 10-week basic police officer training course Aug. 21. The new recruits are the result of one of Multinational Force West’s most successful recruiting efforts this year, officials said.

The monthly drive focuses on identifying, screening and signing up local Iraqi national men from communities in and around the Euphrates River Valley. Many of the new recruits will receive their training at the Baghdad Police College, while others will attend the Jordanian International Police College.

After their training, the recruits will return to their communities to serve among the more than 7,000 Iraqi police officers trained under the new Iraqi government.

Multinational Force West Police Advisor Maj. Robert Chiaruttini said the success of recent recruiting drives is due in part to improvements that the Iraqi Ministry of Interior and Anbar province officials have made to the system used to pay Iraqi police.

“Getting these guys paid on time had been an ongoing issue in the past,” Chiaruttini said. “I would not say the system is perfect now, but it’s definitely improving. And I think you can see the results of that in our recruiting numbers.”

(Compiled from Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)

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