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Coalition Forces Net Suspects, Weapons; Detainees Released

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2006 – Iraqi and coalition troops detained suspects and seized weapons caches throughout Iraq, and an Iraqi review board recommended the release of a number of male detainees being held in the country, Multinational Force Iraq officials reported.

In Salah Ad Din province today, Iraqi Army and Task Force Band of Brothers units continued "Operation Swarmer." The operation was launched March 18 to clear a suspected insurgent operating area northeast of Samarra, military officials reported. Today's operation yielded an additional three caches of small-arms ammunition and rocket-propelled grenades. The combined forces also detained three men suspected of terrorist ties. Since its start, local citizens have offered tips to aid the operation.

Combined operation participants include the 1st Commando Brigade, 1st Brigade of the 4th Iraqi Army Division; 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division; and 2nd Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, of the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division.

Elsewhere, after providing a tip to the whereabouts of a weapons cache yesterday, an Iraqi citizen led Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers to the site. While en route, the soldiers, of 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, in coordination with soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, observed a terrorist trying to set up a heavy machine gun near Iskandariyah. The soldiers killed the insurgent and detained two other terrorist suspects, and seized a weapons cache and four 55-gallon drums filled with weapons.

On March 17, soldiers from Multinational Division Baghdad's 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, detained three individuals suspected in a drive-by shooting in northwestern Baghdad. The soldiers transported the detainees to Camp Liberty. The detainees' vehicle contained multiple AK-47 assault rifles, a PKC rifle, cell phones and load bearing vests.

Elsewhere, elements of the 2nd Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division, and an Estonian platoon, found a weapons cache while on dismounted patrol northwest of Baghdad. An Iraqi civilian tipped off the patrol to the cache, which contained 37 mm, 125 mm rounds, and .50 caliber rounds.

In other news, more than 350 male detainees were released from Theater Internment Facilities on March 18 at the recommendation of the Combined Review and Release Board, officials said. The Iraqi-led board, established in August 2004, is made up of members from the ministries of human rights, justice and interior, as well as officers from the multinational force. To date, the board has reviewed the cases of more than 29,800 detainees, recommending more than 15,600 individuals for release.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq news releases.)

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