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Officials Provide Details of Recent Iraq Operations

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 24, 2006 – Multinational Force Iraq officials have provided details of recent operations conducted by U.S. and Iraqi forces, including today's early morning launch of Operation Scorpion.

Operation Scorpion, which began at 4 a.m., involves searching five villages in and around the Kirkuk area for suspected terrorists, officials said. Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade, 4th Iraqi Army Division, supported by the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, are conducting the joint operation.

Iraqi soldiers from the 2nd Brigade's 1st and 5th battalions are systematically moving through the villages, searching for selected targets based on Iraqi-generated intelligence, officials said. On the U.S. side, the 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, is supporting operations at each of the five villages. Officials said this is the second major operation developed and conducted by the Iraqi 2nd Brigade in the past two months.

In other operations, coalition forces and the Iraqi army netted more significant finds of weapons and munitions, including four SA-14 surface-to-air missiles north of Balad on the Jabouri Peninsula, an upscale section of Duluiyah. U.S. and Iraqi troops swept the peninsula for five days to disrupt insurgent activities and collect stores of explosives, weapons and ammunition insurgents used to attack coalition forces, Iraqi security forces and Iraqi citizens.

The combined operation was conducted by members of 1st Battalion, 8th Combined Arms Battalion, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Task Force Band of Brothers, along with the 1st Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 4th Iraqi Army Division.

Iraqi and coalition forces also confiscated nine 155 mm artillery rounds, four 122 mm mortar rounds, 27 rocket-propelled grenades, eight rocket-propelled grenades, 10 57 mm rockets, a .50-caliber machine gun, various types of hand grenades, 50 pounds of explosives and various bomb-making materials.

Elsewhere, about 1,400 Iraqi army and coalition forces kicked off Operation Northern Lights on March 22 to disrupt anti-Iraqi forces and to find and destroy terrorist caches in the Abu Ghraib area west of Baghdad, officials said.

The combined operation began with 3rd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, and the 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, moving to blocking positions by ground. Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, air-assaulted onto the objective to conduct a cordon-and-search operation.

By late afternoon, about 400 soldiers from the 3rd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, discovered five weapons caches. The stashes contained a machine gun, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, three AK-47 assault rifles, 2,200 PKC machine gun rounds, two boxes of gunpowder, an RPG rocket, an Iraqi police jacket, 18 106 mm tank rounds, 400 blasting caps, 40 artillery rounds, 17 pressure plate initiators, 20 radio initiators, and thousands of .50-caliber machine gun rounds. They also detained a suspected terrorist near one of the caches.

At another cache site, terrorists attacked Iraqi soldiers with small-arms fire, wounding one Iraqi policeman and an Iraqi child caught in the crossfire.

Iraqi soldiers returned fire, wounding and capturing a terrorist. Coalition forces personnel treated all of the wounded.

Another cache consisted of seven RPG launchers, 12 RPG rounds, 14 82 mm mortar rounds, two 120 mm mortar rounds, 10 155 mm rounds, a mortar bipod and 2,000 small-arms rounds, some of which were armor-piercing rounds. A suspected terrorist was detained at the site.

So far, Iraqi and coalition forces have detained two persons of high-value interest and 16 suspected terrorists, officials said. The operation, they added, is based on intelligence, including tips from local Iraqis, that terrorists operating in the area are stockpiling materials for roadside and vehicle bombs to prepare for future attacks in Baghdad.

Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers detained three suspected terrorists yesterday and found another weapons cache south of Baghdad.

A patrol of soldiers from 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, detained the suspected terrorists after a search of their home yielded a weapons cache.

The cache consisted of an AK-47, a 9 mm pistol with a magazine and box of ammunition, an air rifle, an Iraqi police uniform, a British uniform and hypodermic needles.

More weapons were taken out of the hands of terrorists when elements of Multinational Division Baghdad's 1st Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, discovered a weapons cache consisting of 26 RPG rounds behind a small berm while conducting a route clearance west of the Euphrates River yesterday. The rounds turned out to be training rounds, which are RPG rounds that consist of warheads without rockets.

Elsewhere, other elements of the regiment detained a terrorism suspect after finding a box of blasting caps in his yard while they were conducting a cordon-and-search mission southwest of Hazah. The suspect claimed the blasting caps belonged to his father, who is a member of the Jurf As Sakhr city council and was not home at the time of the search.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq news releases.)

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