U.S., Iraqi Forces Disrupting Terrorist Operations, General Says
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 13, 2005 U.S., coalition and Iraqi forces are disrupting terrorist operations in Iraq, including al Qaeda efforts in that country, a senior U.S. military officer said today.
A series of recent "aggressive operations" conducted by U.S. and Iraqi forces have helped to erode terrorists' effectiveness, Army Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, spokesman for Multinational Force Iraq, said from Baghdad during a video teleconference with Pentagon reporters.
Those operations resulted in the collection of enemy ordnance, as well as "taking out terrorists and foreign fighters (and) their leaders," Lynch said, as well as killing and rounding up supporters of Saddam Hussein's former Baathist regime.
For example, during a joint-U.S. military sweep conducted Oct. 12 in the Euphrates River valley, soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines found an enemy weapons cache containing 1,000 artillery shells.
Those shells "were clearly designed to be used to build improvised explosive devices," Lynch said, adding, "most of the IEDs that we see have some version of that artillery shell as part of it."
Other U.S.-Iraqi military operations conducted in the Euphrates valley in recent weeks have stemmed the movement of foreign fighters from Syria into western Baghdad, Lynch said. Non-Iraqi terrorists, he pointed out, are responsible for the majority of suicide attacks in Iraq.
Additionally, 100 known leaders of al Qaeda in Iraq have been removed since January, Lynch said. Six of those terrorists, he said, were key agents of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al Qaeda's mastermind in Iraq.
And of the 55 terror leaders displayed as characters on a set of playing cards at the beginning of the war in Iraq, he said, 45 have been captured or killed, with just 10 remaining at large.
Today Iraq has about 200,000 trained and equipped security forces, Lynch said, which includes 115 combat battalions.
"Every day we conduct joint and combined operations with the Iraqi security forces, and every day we see more and more capability," Lynch said. And, in many of those operations, he said, Iraqi security forces outnumber U.S. and coalition forces.
As the Oct. 15 referendum on a new Iraqi constitution nears, enemy attacks appear to be on the decrease, Lynch said.
However, "there will continue to be acts of violence" in Iraq, Lynch predicted, because the insurgents there "have declared war against the democratic process."