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Suspects Nabbed, Hostages Rescued, Iraqi Army Arrives in Ramadi

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2006 – In the past three days, U.S. soldiers and coalition forces have detained insurgents, seized a weapons cache and rescued hostages in Iraq, military officials said.

Soldiers from 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, detained six insurgents in a raid near Samarra yesterday. The detainees were held for further questioning. The raid also uncovered a weapons cache including AK-47 assault rifles, a rocket-propelled-grenade launcher, a machine gun, machetes, bayonets, and a mortar sight. The cache was taken to a secure location for disposal.

While conducting operations near Tarmiya on March 25, coalition forces rescued two Iraqi men kidnapped during a carjacking. The coalition troops witnessed a car stop a tractor-trailer along the highway. Four men got out of the car and pulled two men from the truck cab and threw them into the trunk of the car. Two of the men drove off in the truck while the other two got back in the car and drove off with the hostages in the trunk.

Coalition forces interdicted the car and rescued the two hostages, who said they didn't know the kidnappers. The semi-truck has not been recovered.

In other news, the Iraqi army's 1st Brigade, 1st Division, completed its move into the East Ramadi Iraqi Camps March 26. The brigade had been moving into the camps during the past week.

"We are the soldiers of the 1st Brigade, 1st Division, Iraqi army. Our mission is to save the innocent citizens of Ramadi from the black hands of the insurgents that are shedding their blood," the brigade's commander said. "We promise the innocent Iraqi citizens that we will be the sons who will be responsible to protect the families that live in the Al Anbar province."

U.S. Army Col. John L. Gronski, commander of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division, said the addition of the Iraqi army unit is a huge combat multiplier. "Their ability to gain factual information is paramount to fighting the insurgency," he said. "Since our arrival here in July 2005, we have seen the (Iraqi army) make tremendous strides towards securing the city of Ramadi.

"They have been very successful in detaining insurgents, discovering weapons caches, and winning the trust of the citizens of Al Anbar," he added.

With the addition of the Iraqi army brigade, Iraqi security forces in Ramadi continue to grow in strength and numbers. U.S. officials said the Iraqi unit is focused on establishing a stable and secure environment for the citizens of Ramadi, a former insurgent stronghold.

Insurgents operating in the eastern Ramadi area are linked to the al Qaeda cell in Anbar province, which is part of Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's network. The network is attempting to gain control of local towns by using threats and intimidation tactics to enlist local support for its terrorist cause, officials said.

"The Iraqi army soldier adds a dimension that coalition soldiers can't," U.S. Maj. William Fall, the Iraqi army liaison for the U.S. team's 2nd Battalion, said. "First and foremost, they are citizens of Iraq, and they are dedicated to protecting the Iraqi people. They speak the language. They know the culture, and they are easily accepted and trusted by the local citizens of Ramadi."

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq news releases.)

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