Interim Iraqi Constitution Imminent; Military Operations Continue
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 29, 2004 Although it was apparent the Iraqi General Council would miss the U.S.-suggested deadline to establish an interim constitution, IGC member Mawaffak Rubaie asserted late Feb. 28 that the signing of the document is imminent, noting, "Failure is not an option."
Speaking to reporters at a Baghdad press conference, Rubaie insisted, "We have to get this document signed and dusted and finished with this is a must. All Iraqi people are waiting for us to release this document."
Rubaie, accompanied by fellow IGC members Samir Shakir Mahmoud Sumaidy and Barham Salih, noted that all of the 25 council members "are working hard" to produce a signed constitution.
"When you see that document, I can tell you, everybody will be proud of that document," Rubaie said.
Meanwhile, U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq rounded up more anti-coalition suspects during Feb. 28 operations in northern Iraq. Task Force Olympia soldiers from 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division captured people and recovered weapons and other explosives.
In Hammam al-Alil, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment soldiers detained one person suspected of selling weapons and participating in attacks on Iraqi police.
During that operation an enemy grenade exploded, wounding one U.S. soldier. Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment conducted a cordon-and- search operation in Mosul and detained one suspect.
Citizens in northwestern Iraq approached 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment at Sinjar and turned in 143 rocket-propelled-grenade rockets, 60 RPG boosters, two RPG launchers, three hand grenades, 70 122 mm artillery rounds, two 125 mm rounds and 1,362 14.5 mm rounds. And an Iraqi citizen used a hotline to report the location of two RPG rockets in Mosul, which were subsequently picked up by soldiers from 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment.
Also, 4th Infantry Division and Task Force Ironhorse soldiers conducted 172 patrols and two raids and captured 28 individuals Feb. 27 and Feb. 28. Twenty- nine of the patrols involved joint operations with Iraqi police, Iraqi Civil Defense Corps and Border Guard forces.
Weapons and equipment seized in raids and patrols conducted within the Task Force Ironhorse area of operation include six AK-47 assault rifles, three SKS automatic rifles, seven RPG launchers, 35 mortar rounds, 23 sticks of dynamite, 201 tank rounds, 1,201 artillery rounds, 90 rockets of various sizes, 15 rocket warheads and three improvised explosive devices.
Also, 4th Infantry Division, 3d Brigade Combat Team soldiers conducted a joint raid with ICDC forces coordinated by the Baghdad police to capture Nahdem al- Marsumi, leader of a terrorist cell out of Samarra. Coalition forces captured seven people during the raid, including Marsumi and five men known to be a part of the terrorist cell. The ICDC also captured a person suspected of being involved in an attack at the Samarra City Council building last month.
On Feb. 27, Task Force Ironhorse soldiers from the 555th Engineer Group located a cache of ammunition buried approximately five kilometers east of Forward Operating Base Speicher. The soldiers found more than 1,000 rounds of high explosive artillery and mortar shells and 50 sub-munitions. An explosive ordnance team will destroy the cache in place.
Meanwhile, an ICDC soldier saw some men digging near a house north of Baiji on Feb. 27. He reported the suspicious activity, and an ICDC patrol was sent to investigate. The patrol discovered an ammunition cache and captured one person suspected of burying the ammunition. The ICDC turned the ammo cache over to 4th ID soldiers. The cache included 20 68 mm helicopter rockets, seven rocket- propelled grenades, 17 82 mm mortar shells and six 60 mm mortar rounds.
Also on Feb. 27, 4th Infantry Division soldiers from 3d Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment working in conjunction with the ICDC and Iraqi police captured five individuals suspected of anti-coalition activities in a joint raid in the town of Sadah in Diyala province. The detainees are suspects in the bombing of a local health clinic.
An Iraqi citizen led soldiers from Task Force Ironhorse's 14th Engineer Battalion to three weapon caches about 20 kilometers north of Tikrit on Feb. 27. The caches included five 82 mm rockets and 15 rocket warheads. All the caches were destroyed in place.
Soldiers from the 14th Engineer Battalion discovered a cache west of Balad consisting of 201 100 mm tank rounds. The cache was destroyed.