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U.S. Soldiers, Iraqi Forces Uncover Weapons

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 13, 2005 – U.S. Third Infantry Division soldiers conducted a raid in southern Baghdad on June 11, uncovering a weapons cache that led to the arrest of several men, according to coalition officials in Iraq.

The soldiers - from A Battery, 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery - found 15 60 mm mortar rounds and one 122 mm artillery round in a barren field behind a small house. The cache was about 500 meters from a suspected launch site for rocket attacks against Camp Rustimiyah.

The soldiers also found $17,900 in U.S. $100 bills. Second Brigade Combat Team legal personnel were on hand to assist in proper evidence collection, which officials said can greatly affect the chance of securing a court conviction for offenders.

"The soldiers are good with evidence collection, but I'm making sure we preserve fingerprints and get pictures," said Capt. Margaret Kurz, 2nd Brigade attorney. "Pictures and sworn statements are everything in Iraqi courts - it's crucial that we get a picture connecting the suspect with the evidence."

After an explosive ordnance disposal team secured the mortar and artillery rounds, a man pulled his car into the driveway, and was stopped and searched by 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery quick-reaction force soldiers. He was detained after his car was found to contain several AK-47s and large-caliber handguns.

"The operation today was designed to disrupt the support network for the insurgency, and we've done that," said Army Lt. Col. Steven Merkel, battalion commander. "This goes a long way toward keeping our soldiers safe, and keeping the people of Iraq safe."

Also, with the help of the Iraqi people, U.S. and Iraqi security forces found a bomb maker, a terrorist financier and weapons caches in Baghdad on June 11 and 12, officials noted.

An Iraqi civilian told Task Force Baghdad soldiers about a roadside bomb emplaced on a major highway in southeast Baghdad on June 12. When the soldiers went to the site, they found wires running to the nose of a 155 mm artillery round.

The soldiers secured the area to prevent anyone from getting hurt, and called in a team of explosives experts. Fifty minutes after receiving the tip, the explosives team safely detonated the bomb.

"It is clear when events like this happen that the Iraqi people want Iraq to be a safer place for everyone," said Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Stimmel, an operations noncommissioned officer for 1st Battalion, 64th Armored Regiment. "They are stepping forward to make this country a better place, secure their own freedom and defeat the terrorists."

The man who provided the tip will receive a reward, Stimmel added.

Acting on another tip earlier, Iraqi police officers arrested three terror suspects - including two foreigners residing in Iraq illegally - and seized weapons and bombs from a house in central Baghdad on June 12.

The police captured three suspects at a house in the Mustansirya district of Baghdad. They also found three AK-47 assault rifles and two bombs hidden in the garage.

"The training and joint operations we have been conducting with the Iraqi police is really paying off," said Capt. Pedro E. Vazquez, an operations officer with the 720th Military Police Battalion. "I am certain the Iraqi people are watching with pride as the successes of the Iraqi security forces continue to mount."

On June 11, an Iraqi approached a patrol from the 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, and told them where a suspected bomb manufacturer lived.

The patrol went to the house in central Baghdad's Adhamiyah district and found an anti-tank missile in the initial stages of being made into a bomb. The soldiers took the bomb maker into custody.

"The citizen who told the Iraqi soldiers about the bomb maker saved the lives of a lot of civilians, soldiers and police officers," said Lt. Col. Clifford Kent, Task Force Baghdad spokesman. "It's another example of how terrorists' efforts to intimidate Iraqis are failing."

Earlier, a joint Iraqi and U.S. military police patrol noticed what appeared to be a roadside bomb with red wires leading from the device to a house 50 meters away.

When the patrol searched the house, they discovered two concrete blocks with munitions inside, 60 pounds of explosives, two bags of plastic explosives, and radios and pagers set up to be used as trigger devices for the bombs.

Iraqi police also found a mold to build more bombs, a map of Baghdad and another map of Baghdad's oil infrastructure, both of which could have been used to identify potential targets.

(Compiled from Task Force Baghdad news releases.)

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