More Violence in Iraq as Military Operations Continue
By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 22, 2004 Violence continues in Iraq, and coalition forces continue their efforts to kill or capture enemies of the coalition and the Iraqi people.
At a press briefing today in Baghdad, Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy operations director for Combined Joint Task Force 7, provided details of various recent incidents and operations.
In the 24 hours leading up to the briefing, Kimmitt said, the coalition conducted 1,336 patrols, 20 offensive operations and 16 raids, and captured 69 anti-coalition suspects.
In the northern zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 75 patrols, three offensive operations, and detained nine anti- coalition suspects, Kimmitt said. In the north-central zone, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 290 patrols and five raids, and captured 36 anti-coalition suspects.
The chief of police in Balad, Lt. Col. Fadil Ali Jansen, was assassinated March 21, the general said. Eyewitnesses saw the killers drive off in a gray, late- model vehicle that was later determined to be a rental vehicle from Baghdad. "A good description of the assailant was also obtained, and a 'be-on-the-lookout' alert has been issued," Kimmitt said.
Also on March 21, coalition forces conducted a raid in Kirkuk to capture three brothers suspected of planning an attack using the guise of being Northern Oil Company security personnel. The unit captured one of the brothers and continues to conduct operations to capture the other two, Kimmitt said.
A March 22 raid by coalition forces in Baiji netted a suspect believed responsible for the March 12 rocket-propelled grenade attack that resulted in the wounding of a coalition soldier, the general said. Three others also were detained.
Kimmitt said an Iraqi civilian was killed and eight Iraqi Civil Defense Corps personnel were injured today by a car bomb at one of the gates to logistics support area Anaconda. The dead civilian is believed to have been the driver of the car that exploded; those wounded were taken by ground ambulance to the 31st Combat Support Hospital in Balad, he said.
In Baghdad, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 538 patrols, 35 escort missions, and captured seven anti-coalition suspects, Kimmitt said. In one incident, two Iraqis who were believed to have fired rockets into the coalition sector were captured during a house search. The men tested positive with a vapor tracer, he said.
In the western zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 208 patrols and detained 20 anti-coalition suspects.
Coalition forces conducted a cordon-and-search operation March 21 in Fallujah and detained two suspects in connection with a Feb. 14 attack on a police station there. The search also turned up a quantity of weapons and ammunition. A joint operation with Iraqi police led to the arrest of four brothers suspected of a recent attack on the Mahmudiya police chief.
Coalition and Iraqi security forces in the central-south zone of operations conducted 110 patrols, established 48 checkpoints and escorted 42 convoys, Kimmitt said. Iraqi police are investigating a car bombing that killed an Iraqi judge March 20 in Hillah, he added.
A position manned by coalition forces at the Shatt al-Arab Hotel was attacked March 20 by Iraqi males who fired approximately 50 rounds in the direction of the hotel, the general said. A quick-reaction force was deployed and captured two people who are being held for questioning.
Operation Iron Promise continues, and over the past 24 hours soldiers of the 1st Armored Division conducted 76 battalion operations and captured 115 enemy personnel. They also seized 208 weapons, 107 artillery and rocket rounds, and "significant quantities" of improvised explosive device materials, Kimmitt reported.
Asked about the military's investigation into reports of mistreatment of Iraqis detainees by U.S. soldiers, Kimmitt said a small number of soldier have operated outside the rules.
"There have been, sadly, cases where soldiers have operated outside established, trained rules of engagement and rules for the use of force -- a very, very small number in a force of over 150,000."
Emphasizing that he was unsure of the number, Kimmitt estimated that "well less than a dozen" soldiers have been investigated for detainee abuse over the last year.
"While each of those cases is nothing to take great pride in, the fact is that 99-plus percent of the soldiers are operating well within those rules of engagement, under very tough conditions, showing remarkable restraint, day after day, operating inside this country," he said.
At the same news briefing, senior coalition spokesman Dan Senor announced that coalition administrator Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III has taken steps to address allegations of improprieties associated with the United Nations "Oil for Food" program in Iraq.
The program began as a way to ease the suffering of the Iraqi people stemming from sanctions imposed on Iraq during Saddam Hussein's regime for the dictator's failure to comply with U.N. resolutions.
Senor told reporters that Bremer has issued a directive to interim Iraqi ministers, CPA senior advisors and regional governance coordinators to safeguard all documents related to the program. The directive includes contracts, amendments and annexes to contracts and supporting materials, he said. As part of the investigation, he added, documents are being inventoried and recorded, and those inventories will be provided to CPA as soon as possible.
"Irregularities, including any evidence of bribes, kickbacks or corruption, should be noted," he said. CPA officials will review submitted inventories and may seek access to records associated with the program.
The documents will be made available to investigations being conducted by the United Nations, the U.S. Congress and Iraqi officials, he said.
Senor said the CPA is helping interim Iraqi ministers identify current ministry officials who may know about misconduct arising from the administration of the oil-for-food program. The CPA will play a supportive role in the investigation by working aggressively to compile the information necessary for investigations that will be conducted by other institutions, he said.
"We want to do everything we can to help uncover the truth here, and Ambassador Bremer has issued a directive to that effect," Senor said. "And we will be taking additional steps in the days and weeks ahead to further bolster the robustness of the overall investigations that are being conducted in ways that we can be helpful."