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U.S., Iraqi Forces Work Together, Launch New Operation

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 7, 2006 – U.S. and Iraqi forces captured and arrested terrorist suspects, destroyed illicit weapons caches, and launched a series of military offensives against insurgents over the past three days, military officials in Iraq reported.

A joint U.S. and Iraqi force of about 1,300 troops launched Operation United Front yesterday. Their aim, officials said, is to capture terrorists and seize illicit weapons caches in Ameriya, a western Baghdad neighborhood that has been a hotbed of sectarian violence.

Iraqi police cordoned off the neighborhood of 150,000 people under the cover of darkness in the early morning hours while combat engineers cleared routes of suspected roadside bombs. Iraqi police from the 5th Brigade, 2nd National Police Division, and soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, and 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, jointly searched the neighborhood.

"This operation provided the citizens of Ameriya visible proof that coalition and Iraqi security forces are concerned about their safety," said Maj. James Crawford, a spokesman for 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division. "We are committed to ridding the area of terrorists and criminal activity."

In other news, two terrorists were killed yesterday near Tikrit when the roadside bomb they were attempting to emplace detonated. An explosive ordnance disposal team investigated the site of the explosion and determined that the bomb's two artillery shells detonated while one of the men was placing it along the road.

Evidence gathered by Iraqi police officers at the scene led them to the home of one of the terrorist bombers, where officers discovered bomb--making equipment.

Soldiers with 3rd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division arrested three terrorist suspects near Balad yesterday. The soldiers were on patrol and saw the suspects flee as their patrol approached the area.

The soldiers found a small cache with 120 mm rounds and rocket-propelled grenades. The 120 mm rounds were assembled into a makeshift bomb, but it was not yet emplaced for detonation. Officials say the three terrorist suspects tested positive for explosive residue. An explosive ordnance disposal team was called in to conduct a controlled detonation of the cache.

Soldiers working out of Forward Operating Base Caldwell, a tactical command post for the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Task Force Band of Brothers, discovered two separate weapons caches east of Balad Ruz while conducting routine patrols yesterday.

The first cache had 120 mm rounds, 17 5 mm rounds, 152 mm rounds, 130mm rounds, and rocket-propelled grenades. The second cache, found at a different location, had 82 mm rounds, 106 mm rounds, RPGs, and armor piercing mines. An explosive ordnance disposal team disposed of both caches. Coalition forces fired precision munitions at an abandoned train station south of Ramadi yesterday. The train station is a known hub of insurgent activity and had already been damaged, officials said.

A joint U.S.-Iraqi force captured nine terrorist suspects yesterday near Kirkuk. The joint force, led by soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 4th Iraqi Army Division, had been conducting a cordon-and-search mission in the village of Tawilah, just outside of Kirkuk. The Iraqi soldiers were backed up and advised by Bastogne soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division.

Iraqi soldiers moved into one house and found five targeted suspects. The five terrorist suspects are believed to have made and emplaced roadside bombs; they were taken into U.S. military custody. Four other individuals present in the home also were taken into U.S. military custody.

Officials said Iraqi security forces continue to take giant strides in their ability to provide security in the Kirkuk region. In a ceremony last week, officials noted, Iraqi security forces were given responsibility for ensuring security in a major portion of Kirkuk City. This is the second transfer of responsibility in the region since Bastogne soldiers arrived in Iraq last September, officials said.

Coalition forces detained five suspects and killed an unknown number of terrorists May 5 in a series of raids southwest of Samarra.

Coalition forces had intercepted a vehicle occupied by three terrorism suspects when they were subject to small-arms fire from a nearby house. Armed gunmen -- two with shoulder-fired rocket launchers, one with a light machine gun -- then exited the house.

Coalition forces quickly neutralized the threat with their own small-arms fire and rockets from supporting aircraft. They then detained the three terrorist suspects in the intercepted vehicle. The vehicle had AK-47s, ammunition, improvised grenades and hand grenades, officials said.

Coalition forces intercepted another suspect vehicle at a different location some 15 kilometers east of the first intercepted vehicle. There, they detained two more terrorism suspects. A search of a terrorist safe house yielded mortar rounds and grenades.

Official say that one of the five detained terrorist suspects is believed to be a senior al Qaeda associate. All five suspects are being questioned.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq releases.)

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