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Precision Strike Targets Major Weapons Cache in Iraq

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 3, 2004 – Multinational Force Iraq troops launched another precision strike in Fallujah, Iraq, early this morning, this one against a building on the city's outskirts where anti-Iraqi forces with ties to the Abu Musab al-Zarqawi terrorist network were moving weapons, officials reported today.

Officials at the Combined Press Information Center in Baghdad said the strike severely damaged the building, which housed enemy fighters and weapons. Forty- five minutes of secondary explosions indicated that the building was being used as a huge weapons and ammunition cache, they said.

A large but unspecified number of enemy fighters with links to local terrorist elements, specifically the al-Zarqawi network, were presumed killed in the strike, officials said.

Throughout the operation, multiple measures were taken to ensure no innocent civilians were on site during the attack, and all precautions were made to keep collateral damage to a minimum, according to officials.

Also today, Iraqi security forces and the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit captured four suspected anti-Iraqi militants in Iraq's northern Babil province.

Officials said Iraqi special weapons and tactics team members and National Guardsmen, supported by the U.S. Marines' force reconnaissance platoon and other multinational forces, captured a former Baath Party leader in the vicinity of Hillah. The arrest came during the latest in a series of cordon- and-knock operations targeting criminals and other anti-Iraqi elements, officials said.

Iraqi Security Forces and Marines with the 24th MEU's Chicago-based 2nd Battalion conducted similar operations near Lutafiyah to round up individuals wanted in connection with attacks on Iraqi and coalition forces.

Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 263 provided close-air support and aerial reconnaissance during both missions, officials said.

Near Iskandariyah, Marines from Company A, Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, detained two men about 30 minutes after Marines from the unit's Small Craft Company took small-arms fire during a riverine patrol, officials reported.

One suspect was stopped at a vehicle checkpoint after the Marines noticed a window in the car he was driving sported bullet holes, officials said. Marines picked up the other suspect after he fled from a house as a patrol approached. Officials said both men tested positive for gunpowder residue.

Meanwhile, Marines from the Battalion Landing Team's Company C detained another suspected militant at a vehicle checkpoint, officials said.

Since assuming operational control of northern Babil just over two months ago, the Marines and Iraqi security forces have captured more than 160 people in the province suspected of conducting criminal and other anti-Iraqi activity, officials said.

In other Iraq news, officials reported that a Multinational Force Iraq patrol witnessed an explosion on the second floor of the Ramadi Agriculture Center Oct. 1.

The explosion damaged the second and third floors of the center, which recently received a $90,000 renovation and was to be a symbolic centerpiece of Ramadi's newfound prosperity, officials said.

Reports indicate that members of a patrol noticed a man hanging around the building. He reportedly left the area just before the explosion then returned to the scene after the blast, where he was approached by Multinational Force Iraq troops and killed during a brief small-arms exchange.

Officials said a positive trace of gunpowder residue consistent with bomb- making material was discovered on the man's clothing and skin. His body was turned over to Iraqi police for identification and further investigation.

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