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Four Soldiers Killed in Iraq, Accident Claims Another, Operation Nets 66

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 26, 2003 – Four soldiers were killed in operations in Iraq and another was killed in an accident Dec. 24 to 26, coalition officials announced.

News reports said that guerrillas also launched a series of mortar and rocket attacks on coalition targets in and around Baghdad. While these attacks targeted U.S. and coalition forces, there were no casualties, said officials in Baghdad.

1st Armored Division soldiers captured five men suspected of firing rockets at the coalition compound.

Division soldiers also participated in Operation Iron Grip. Soldiers captured 66 prisoners in the operation, of which 21 are considered significant. These include a major general associated with Saddam Hussein, individuals with links to a large terrorist organization, known bombmakers, cell leaders, senior planners for the former regime and several Fedayeen Saddam members from a cell in Baghdad. Division officials expect these prisoners will provide information that will lead to more enemy leaders and operatives.

Division soldiers also seized equipment, including 60 122 mm rockets, 34 AK-47 assault rifles, six other rifles, three shotguns, 11 pistols and large quantities of improvised explosive device-making material.

Two soldiers were killed during a mortar attack on Forward Operating Base Gabe near Baqubah Dec. 25. A coalition news release said the soldiers were treated at the scene, but died en route to the hospital. Four other soldiers were wounded in the attack. Their injuries are not life-threatening, officials said.

Coalition officials based in Tikrit said one soldier was killed and another wounded in an improvised explosive device attack on a U.S. convoy southwest of Ad Duluiyah Dec. 26.

In another incident, a Task Force 1st Armored Division soldier was killed by in an improvised explosive device Dec. 24. The soldier was taking part in an operation in north-central Baghdad.

Finally, a Task Force Ironhorse soldier was apparently electrocuted in Kirkuk Dec. 24. The soldier was repairing wire on a communication tower when the incident occurred.

The deaths are a reminder that even at a time dedicated to celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace in still dangerous in Iraq. President Bush called on all Americans to remember service members during his Christmas message.

"We also pray for our brave men and women in uniform, many of whom will spend the holidays far from home," he wrote. "Their courage and dedication is helping keep us safe and extending freedom and peace. We are grateful for their service to our country, and for the support and sacrifice of their families."

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