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Iraqi Operations Net Baath Officials, Sympathizers

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 30, 2003 – Coalition forces detained thousands of suspected Baath Party members and sympathizers during Operations Desert Scorpion and Sidewinder, Combined Joint Task Force 7 officials said today.

Desert Scorpion, which launched June 15, has resulted in 1,330 individuals being detained to date. Members of the 1st Armored Division and the 4th Infantry Division also confiscated hundreds of weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition during the operation.

Operation Sidewinder, which is primarily in the 4th Infantry Division's area, began June 29, DoD officials said. Iron Horse division soldiers conducted eight raids on the first day of the operation. They detained 32 people and confiscated a number of weapons. A Baath Party colonel was among those detained, officials said.

CJTF 7 officials said U.S. forces are being aggressive in patrolling and maintaining security throughout the country.

"Whether or not there is a named operation, we remain very aggressive in our patrolling activities," said Marine Maj. Sean Gibson, a CJTF 7 spokesman. "Our goal is to remove Baath Party officials, terrorists and criminal elements who are preventing peace and security in Iraq and slowing rebuilding in the country."

Sidewinder is in the so-called "Sunni Triangle" -- Baghdad, Ar Ramadi and Tikrit. The area was a Saddam stronghold and many supporters of the former regime reside there.

On June 28, two soldiers missing since June 25 were found dead. The bodies of Sgt. 1st Class Philippe Gladimir and Pfc. Kevin C. Ott, both of the 3rd Battalion, 18th Field Artillery, were discovered west of Al Taji about 40 kilometers north of Baghdad.

CJTF 7 officials said their Humvee was discovered via an aerial search. Personal items of the soldiers were found during a house-to-house search on June 27, and four individuals were taken into custody.

A total of 12 Iraqis have been detained as a result of the incident. "All commanders are looking at the situation to see what they can do to improve force-protection matters," Gibson said.

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