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U.S. Marines, Iraqis Continue Operation Spear in Iraq

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 19, 2005 – Marines and Iraqi security forces continue Operation Spear, called Rohme in Arabic, in Iraq's Anbar province, finding weapons caches and calling in air strikes on terrorist strong points.

Regimental Combat Team 2 and the unit's Iraqi allies are uncovering terrorist weapons caches in and around Karabilah, a small city near the Syrian border. Press reports indicate the forces have killed more than 100 insurgents.

Four hostages rescued by Iraqi soldiers and U.S. Marines June 18 are currently receiving medical attention for wounds caused by their captors, U.S. officials said. The rescued individuals reported they were tortured and held for three weeks. They said they were not interrogated by the insurgents or told why they were being held prisoner.

The building that held the hostages also contained a small basement that contained a weapons cache, consisting of automatic rifles and several machine guns, along with supplies of ammunition. The building was part of a compound containing a small school with bomb-making instructions on the classroom's blackboard. Training manuals and DVDs of insurgents beheading captives were also found in the compound.

Coalition forces located a makeshift improvised-explosive-device factory June 18. The site contained cell phones, blasting caps and other various bomb-making materials. These materials are often used to construct roadside and car bombs.

The Marines and Iraqis also found small weapons caches in various buildings in the city. Weapons found included an improvised mortar system, sniper rifles, and ammunition.

Later, numerous small groups of terrorists, armed primarily with AK-47 assault rifles, continued to oppose the Iraqi soldiers and Marines' movement throughout the city.

A suicide truck bomber was killed when a Marine tank crew fired a single round at the vehicle. Sudanese and Saudi Arabian terrorists have been confirmed among those killed, U.S. officials said.

Late June 18, terrorists fired on Marines and Iraqi soldiers just outside a mosque. The terrorists fled into the mosque when coalition forces returned fire. Three terrorists were killed as a result of the engagement.

Pilots from 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, the British Royal Air Force and the U.S. Air Force attacked vehicles and terrorist-occupied buildings with laser-guided bombs and missiles in and around Karabilah June 18. Marine F/A 18 Hornets and AH-1W Super Cobra helicopters and British GR-4 Tornadoes, along with Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons, provided close air support. Marine transport helicopters also gave crucial troop lift and logistical support.

Though severe dust storms are slowing the clearing of Iraqi soldier and U.S. Marine objective areas, the operation will continue, officials said.

Iraqi security forces and U.S. Marines wore full combat equipment, to include 41-pound fragmentation vests with ballistic plates and Kevlar helmets, operating in temperatures reaching 106 Fahrenheit in Karabilah.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq news releases.)

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