Forces in Iraq Target Iranian-backed Terrorists
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 12, 2010 Iraqi forces working with U.S. advisors have arrested more than two dozen suspected terrorists and killed others during a series of operations in the past two days to break up terrorist groups in Iraq, military officials reported.
In the largest sweep, Iraqi Forces today arrested 22 suspected terrorists with the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah group during operations with U.S. forces targeting a weapons-smuggling and rocket-attack network operating in rural villages southeast of Baghdad near the Iranian border.
An unknown number of suspected Kataib Hezbollah terrorists were killed during the operation, officials said.
Intelligence reports led Iraqi forces and U.S. advisors to the village of Ali ash Sharqi, 160 miles southeast of Baghdad, in search of weapons caches and smugglers loyal to Kataib Hezbollah.
While approaching the village, the team was fired upon by people dispersed in several homes. Members of the team returned fire, killing the perpetrators. Local authorities transported the bodies to an Iraqi medical facility in the area. While the number of casualties has not yet been confirmed, officials said, initial reports indicate five people were killed.
During the engagement, one suspect fled on foot, but was apprehended in a nearby field. The suspect suffered injuries while fleeing and was evacuated to a nearby medical facility for treatment.
The team continued the operation and arrested 12 suspected Kataib Hezbollah terrorists believed to be smuggling and stockpiling Iranian-made weapons near homes in Ali ash Sharqi.
In Ali al Gharbi, a village 145 miles southeast of Baghdad, Iraqi forces and U.S. advisors searched with warrants for members of Kataib Hezbollah who conduct assassinations, extort civilians and local Iraqi businesses, and transport weapons from Iran into southern Iraq.
They searched several homes and found electric circuits used to detonate improvised explosive devices, several assault rifles and military equipment. Iraqi forces arrested 10 suspected Kataib Hezbollah weapons smugglers believed involved in rocket attacks against security forces.
Iraqi and U.S. intelligence indicates a recent increase in smuggling by members of Kataib Hezbollah, who then stockpile weapons and explosives in Iraqi communities for future attacks.
Kataib Hezbollah has claimed responsibility for rocket attacks aimed at security forces working to secure populated areas. Combined security operations today along the Iranian border were expected to disrupt Kataib Hezbollah's efforts to transport rockets, explosives and other weapons into Iraq, officials said.
In other operations in Iraq, Iraqi forces arrested five suspected terrorists today during two operations in northern Iraq targeting two al-Qaida in Iraq bombing cell leaders.
In Rashidiyah, five miles northwest of Mosul, a combined team searched a home for a suspected leader of an al-Qaida in Iraq explosives cell that carries out attacks throughout the region. Based on evidence and information gathered during the operation, Iraqi forces arrested three suspected criminal associates of the wanted man.
In an operation in Baqouba, 32 miles northeast of Baghdad, the Iraqi 3rd Emergency Response Unit and U.S. advisors searched two homes for a wanted al-Qaida in Iraq leader in Diyala province. The terrorist group is responsible for IED attacks, assassinations and kidnappings in the area.
Information gathered at the scene led Iraqi police to arrest two suspected criminal associates of the wanted terrorist.
(Compiled from U.S. Forces Iraq news releases.)