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Iraqis Increasingly Take Lead in Anti-Terrorist Operations

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 19, 2006 – Iraqi and coalition forces continued in recent days to detain terrorist suspects and search, find and destroy weapons caches through a series of patrols and operations designed to bring stability to that country, officials in Iraq reported today.

Back-to-back cordon-and-search missions of six houses in Kirkuk on March 16 by Iraqi police, for instance, netted nine terrorist suspects. The police moved into the city's Qadiysiahya neighborhood and systematically checked every room in the houses, while detaining the men inside.

All nine terrorist suspects were questioned by the police; four were released; and five were transferred into U.S. custody for additional questioning, officials said.

"The training we've been giving the Iraqi security forces is paying huge dividends," said Army Maj. Greg Bishop, spokesman for the 101st Airborne Division's Bastogne Brigade, which observed the police action. "Our role continues to morph into that of advisor, as police in the city of Kirkuk are planning many of the missions and then carrying them out."

Iraqi security forces continue to take on greater responsibility for the security and stability in the Kirkuk region, Bishop said. As their abilities continue to improve, security in the region continues to improve, bringing stability and economic growth to the citizens of Iraq, he noted.

Elsewhere in the Kirkuk region, police in the village of Dibbis, just outside the city, discovered a cache of twelve 120mm mortar rounds. The police moved the cache to their police station for disposal.

Meanwhile in Humera, 16 insurgents were detained in a March 17 raid conducted by the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team. The team received a tip from a local Iraqi that directed them to a house full of insurgents and a cache of weapons. The cache included AK-47 assault rifles, weapon magazines, ammunition and bomb-making materiel, officials said.

All of the detainees tested positive for traces of explosive substances and were taken to the Mosul Detention Facility for further questioning.

Soldiers from 2nd Iraqi Army Division in Mosul found a cache of rocket-propelled grenades, AK-47s, RPG launchers, hand grenades, weapons magazines and hidden ammunition in a truck. An Iraqi army explosive ordnance disposal team assisted in securing the cache, which was taken to a secure location for disposal.

Also on March 17, soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division and coalition troops discovered a weapons cache in Abu Fleis, northwest of Habbaniyah. The cache contained RPG launchers, RPG rounds, propane tanks and 155mm rounds. An explosive ordnance detail destroyed the cache; no injuries or damages were reported, officials said.

And, in the city of Tal Afar, soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 3rd Iraqi Army Division and coalition troops found a weapons cache while searching a deserted house outside that city on March 17. The cache contained improvised rocket launchers and projectile, grenades and C4 explosives. Engineers destroyed the cache and no injuries or damages were reported.

In other news, a local Iraqi citizen yesterday led Iraqi Army Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, to a cache of ammunition during a joint patrol with the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division. The cache contained 14mm anti-aircraft ammunition. Soldiers secured the cache and took it to a nearby base for disposal.

A second combined patrol in Tal Afar yesterday discovered 200 rounds of small-arms ammunition. Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Iraqi Army Division, seized the cache and took it to a nearby base for disposal.

Finally, as Operation Swarmer continued for a third day yesterday, coalition troops had captured a total of 11 weapons caches, while detaining more than 60 terrorist-insurgents. Coalition forces encounter an improvised explosive device along one of the roads in the area today, and one vehicle was damaged. No troops were injured in the attack, officials said.

As Iraqi army troops and their coalition partners continue to clear the objective area northeast of Samarra, enemy caches captured so far have yielded significant amounts of weapons and IED-making materials, including:

  • mortar rounds of varying sizes;
  • rocket propelled grenade rounds;
  • armor-piercing rifle ammunition rounds;
  • rockets of varying sizes;
  • hand grenades;
  • SA-7 surface-to-air missile components, including launcher tubes and batteries; and
  • machine guns and assault rifles.
Among the the IED-making materials discovered since the operation began were an explosive detonating cord, explosive blasting caps, 130mm artillery rounds packed with plastic explosive, and various remote initiation devices, including cordless phone base stations and washing machine timers.

In addition to the weapons and munitions, terrorist training publications, Iraqi army uniforms and videos have been recovered. The video footage portrayed U.S. troop locations in Iraq and procedures for rigging and detonating a car bomb and conducting a suicide bombimg attack.

Operation Swarmer is expected to continue for at least the next 24 to 48 hours as Iraqi and coalition Forces exploit cache sites and search all structures in the area, officials said.

(Compiled from various news releases.)

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