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Iraqis Continue to Take Lead in Fighting Terrorists, Officials Say

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 23, 2006 – Better-trained and more confident Iraqi troops increasingly are taking the fight to the terrorists, and U.S. troops are securing better and more actionable intelligence, thanks to their daily, long-standing efforts on behalf of the Iraqi people, U.S. military officials reported this week.

Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, killed five terrorists, wounded 13, and detained 47 during a two-hour firefight in Mahmudiyah South on July 21.

The 6th IA soldiers received a report from an Iraqi citizen that 10 to 15 men were attacking a house in Hayy Al Shuhada. The IA soldiers tracked the gunmen to the Hayy Al Askery neighborhood, where a small-arms battle ensued in which five terrorists were killed and the remainder fled the scene in a white truck.

The Iraqi soldiers followed the terrorists to a residence, whereupon the terrorists abandoned their vehicle. Attack helicopter aviators from Multinational Division Baghdad destroyed the vehicle. Iraqi soldiers detained six suspects who were hiding in a nearby canal and another three who were found by the crew of another military vehicle.

A total of 47 suspects were detained during the operation. Iraqi soldiers also confiscated five PKC machine guns, 16 AK-47s and more than 300 rounds of ammunition. Three Iraqi soldiers and three Iraqi policemen were killed during the engagements.

"This was an Iraqi Army action that clearly demonstrates the professionalism and capability of the IA," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Thomas Kunk, commander, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment. "They heard the cry for help from the Iraqi citizens and went to the sound of the guns. They are fighting for the Iraqi people and their country."

Similar Iraqi Army successes against the terrorists also were achieved in recent days:

Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Division, captured four terrorists in a small town south of Iskandariyah during an early morning raid on July 21. The captured terrorists were wanted for murdering local citizens and producing car bombs and roadside bombs.

Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, supported by attack aviation and soldiers from Company D, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, killed a terrorist, wounded another and detained 10 terrorism suspects on July 19 during an evening firefight in the city of Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad. The engagement began when Iraqi soldiers engaged a group of men armed with AK-47s, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. With the help of combat aviation, the Iraqi soldiers subdued the terrorists and suffered one injury in the resultant firefight.

Iraqi 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Division, soldiers responded to a report from a villager about a possible mortar position in a small town near Hillah on July 20. The Iraqi soldiers found a live rocket, wire remnants and what appeared to be two base plate marks on the ground. The Iraqi soldiers recovered the round.

Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Division, and an Iraqi special weapons and tactics team from Hillah joined U.S. Army forces yesterday to defeat a planned terrorist insurrection in the cities of Mussayib and Husaniyah. The Iraqi forces searched a mosque that the terrorists were using as a weapons sanctuary; indeed, rocket-propelled grenades were found in a mosque bathroom. U.S. forces, meanwhile, provided a protective perimeter and killed 15 terrorists during a three-hour firefight.

"Thugs and criminals tried to take over Mussayib, but they failed because the Iraqi army and police are unbeatable when they work together," said U.S. Army Col. John Tully, commander, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. "The coalition forces were proud to assist their Iraqi brothers."

Combined U.S.-Iraqi operations are enjoying greater success also because the troops there have been able to secure more and better actionable intelligence officials said.

Soldiers of 1st Platoon, Company D, 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, serving with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Multinational Division Baghdad, captured one of the Baghdad area's 20 most-wanted terrorists last week.

U.S. soldiers were on patrol when they noticed two individuals in a parked vehicle behaving suspiciously. The soldiers searched the vehicle and discovered a pistol that the men had no permit for, as well as printed documents that indicated that the men supported terrorist activities.

The soldiers detained the suspects for further investigation. During their detention, intelligence soldiers determined that one of the men was one of the Baghdad area's 20 most-wanted terrorists.

"This was great detective work by the troops on the ground and great work by the battalion and brigade intelligence soldiers, putting the pieces together to figure this out," said Lt. Col. William Brown, intelligence officer, 4th BCT, 101st Airborne Division.

For the capture to take place, he explained, the soldiers had to notice that something about the situation was not right.

"They said they were security forces, but we had not seen them around all day. We do this often. When things aren't right, we check," said Army Spc. Lonnie Bays, a tank crewmember acting as an armored Humvee crewmember.

The company commander of the 1st Platoon echoed that observation.

"They have consistently found the bad guys and then used precision engagements to capture them. This is another example of the positive work they do with the local populous each day," said Capt. Andrew Byrd, 4th BCT.

Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers also detained a wanted terrorist on July 19 during a routine security patrol south of Baghdad.

A patrol from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, observed five suspicious civilians walking around a parked car. When a 2nd BCT soldier attempted to investigate, the suspects tried to evade the patrol by hiding in a nearby vegetated canal. The soldiers detained the group for questioning; one of the suspects was identified as a wanted terrorist for attacks against coalition forces.

The suspect was taken to an MND-B forward operating base for further questioning, officials said.

(Compiled from Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)

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