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Iraqis Volunteering in Record Numbers Since Saddam's Capture

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18, 2003 – Iraqi citizens are volunteering in record numbers to serve in the country's new security services since the Dec. 13 capture of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein, with the largest concentration of volunteers coming from the area around Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, coalition officials said today.

In a Baghdad, press conference, Coalition Provisional Authority spokesman Dan Senor while cautioning that it's too early to label it as a steady trend said a "record spike" in volunteers for service in the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps took place the day after Saddam's capture was announced.

"I qualify that by saying we have to monitor that," he said, "but it certainly is a good signal, and it's consistent with what we've been seeing across the board: steady increases in the number of Iraqis who want to participate in protecting their country."

Though attacks in the last month against coalition forces in Iraq have dropped in number compared to previous months, enemy attacks on Iraqi security services and civilians are increasing, a military official said at the press conference.

Brig. Gen. Mark T. Kimmitt, deputy operations director for Combined Joint Task Force 7, said that over the past week, coalition forces averaged 22 enemy engagements per day. On the other hand, anti-coalition members averaged three daily attacks against Iraqi security forces and two against Iraqi civilians over that period.

Kimmitt said coalition forces conducted 1,658 patrols and 49 offensive operations in Iraq over the 24 hours leading up to today's 5 p.m. local time briefing. They executed 27 raids and captured 183 anti-coalition suspects, he added.

Coalition forces in the north conducted 189 patrols and seven cordon-and-search operations, taking 27 prisoners. An Iraqi police officer was killed and another was wounded in a drive-by shooting in north Mosul. In southeastern Mosul, an Iraqi police checkpoint came under rocket-propelled grenade and small-arms attack.

Also in Mosul, Iraqi Civil Defense Corps soldiers killed an attacker who was targeting a coalition convoy. Three attackers were killed in a separate Mosul incident after they initiated a drive-by shooting attempt against coalition soldiers.

Cordon-and-knock operations in west Mosul netted 10 enemy personnel, including a former Fedayeen Saddam paramilitary group member with ties to the militant Wahabi group.

Task Force Ironhorse conducted 122 patrols in the north- central zone, capturing 99 people in six raids. Iraqi security services participated in 12 of the patrols.

In Samarra, coalition forces continued Operation Ivy Blizzard. The operation, Kimmitt said, is designed to kill or capture former regime elements and destroy their operational cells. Ivy Blizzard is also aimed at helping legitimate authorities in the city in repairing infrastructure, funding quality-of-life improvements and stimulating the economy to empower the local government.

Twelve known targets were among 87 people rounded up in 16 raids in Samarra. Soldiers found and confiscated more than 200 AK-47 assault rifles, as well as large amounts of explosives and ammunition. Eight other suspected insurgents were detained in other north-central sector operations.

An Iraqi citizen led coalition forces to two houses northwest of Baghdad. Behind a false wall in one house, soldiers found three AK-47s, a shotgun, a submachine gun, a rifle scope, and a cache of small-caliber ammunition. Five suspects were captured. Nearby, soldiers found a tactical platform used to rehearse and conduct attacks.

In Baghdad, coalition forces and Iraqi police conducted Operation Iron Justice, attacking and disrupting funding sources for criminal elements in the city. They conducted 552 patrols and 14 offensive operations, and detained 20 people.

A joint Iraqi Civil Defense Corps-coalition raid disrupted a counterfeiting ring in Sadr City. Six enemy personnel, including four known targets, were captured. Local Iraqis provided tips that led to the capture of a former chief of staff for Qusay Hussein, one of Saddam's two sons killed July 22.

Coalition soldiers in the west conducted 187 patrols -- including six joint patrols with Iraqi security forces and four offensive operations, capturing 23 enemy personnel.

In the central-south zone, coalition forces conducted 129 patrols and detained 10 people. Four Iraqis suspected of smuggling and black-market activities were detained. Their trucks carrying 18 full 55-gallon drums of gasoline and some gas pumps were confiscated.

Three people were detained in the southeast zone, where coalition forces conducted 306 patrols. An Iraqi police officer on duty in Nasiriyah was killed and three others were wounded in a drive-by shooting at an Iraqi police checkpoint.

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