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Iraqi Troops Nab Militia Chief; Weapons Caches Found

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3, 2006 – An Iraqi Army unit caught a mid-level leader of an illegal militia group during an early-morning Aug. 31 raid in southeastern Baghdad, according to Multinational Corps Iraq officials.

The Iraqi soldiers, accompanied by coalition advisers, were specifically looking for the militia’s chieftain, officials said, noting that he is believed to be responsible for inciting sectarian violence, fear and instability through acts of intimidation and murder. He also was wanted for authorizing the acquisition and use of heavy weapons and improvised explosive devices employed in attacks on Iraqi citizens and coalition troops.

No civilians or Iraqi or coalition forces were killed or injured during the raid, officials said.

In other news, Iraqi security forces and U.S. soldiers from the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, found an apparent enemy bomb-making facility and seized other weapon caches Aug. 30 during operations in Adhamiyah, Iraq.

The site yielded a large supply of bomb-making material and engineering books.

In another action, American soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, found a mortar base plate, a mortar bipod, 12 60mm mortar rounds, three full AK-47 rifle magazines, a pistol belt and various terrorist equipment during a search of a school in Adhamiyah. An explosive ordnance disposal team destroyed the captured material.

Later, the 17th Infantry Regiment soldiers discovered a smaller weapons cache hidden in an ice cream/bakery shop in Adhamiyah. The soldiers seized a set of body armor, two rocket-propelled grenade launchers, four RPGs, three bandoliers, various bomb-making materials, a belt of rifle ammunition and loose rounds. An EOD team buried the cache to make it unavailable to the enemy.

As of Aug. 31, Iraqi and U.S. troops in support of Operation Together Forward had cleared more than 36,000 buildings, 32 mosques and 26 Baghdad neighborhoods. They’ve detained 42 terrorist suspects, seized more than 900 weapons, registered more than 184 weapons and found 18 weapons caches. Operation Together Forward is the concentrated effort of Iraqi and coalition forces to bring the security situation under control in the Iraqi capital.

The combined forces also have replaced 444 doors, 18 windows and 656 locks damaged during clearing operations, and have removed more than 17,000 tons of debris and trash from Baghdad streets, officials said.

(Compiled from Multinational Corps Iraq news releasees.) 

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