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U.S. Iraq Operation Snags Pro-Saddam Suspects, Weapons, Ammo

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 12, 2003 – Operation Peninsula Strike, a U.S. military effort to eliminate Saddam-regime loyalists remaining in Iraq, has "bagged" nearly 400 suspects, according to U.S. Central Command press releases.

The operation began June 9, according to Central Command, when Task Force Ironhorse soldiers conducted a series of raids to eliminate Baath Party regime loyalists, paramilitary groups such as Fedayeen Saddam and other pro-Saddam groups.

By the second day, Operation Peninsula Strike had rounded up 397 suspects, according to Central Command, and had collected "numerous" weapons and ammunition.

By June 12, 59 of the 397 detainees had been released, having been deemed as too young or old or having little value for obtaining intelligence, according to the command.

The raids were mounted against subversive elements located on a peninsula along the Tigris River, northeast of Balad, Iraq.

The U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division is leading the strike force, which is comprised of Army infantry, armor, artillery, aviation and engineer elements, and U.S. Air Force aircraft and personnel, according to CENTCOM.

In related news, two more Saddam supporters on Central Command's "Iraqi Top 55" officials' list are in coalition custody, according to Central Command. They are:

  • Latif Nusayyif al-Jasim al Dulaymi, No. 18 on the Top 55 list. He's a former member of the deposed regime's Revolutionary Command Council, a Central Baath Party member and Deputy Secretary of the Baath Military Bureau.
  • Brig. Gen. Husayn al-Awadi, the former Baath Party Regional Chair, Ninawa Governorate, and Chemical Corps officer. He is No. 53 on the "Top 55" list.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has noted in recent days that pro- Saddam paramilitary units such as Fedayeen Saddam, Baathists and other subversive groups remaining in Iraq are responsible for a recent spate of sometimes fatal attacks on U.S. troops serving in Iraq.

Those groups, Rumsfeld pointed out June 10 at Fort Sao Juliao, Portugal, while on a four-day European trip, "are the ones that are periodically attacking coalition forces, sometimes successfully."

However, "the United States is adding forces in Iraq," Rumsfeld said in Portugal, while "altering the mix of our forces so that their increased presence will be seen and felt in the country."

The defense secretary also noted that discussions are now ongoing with 41 countries for more Iraq peacekeeping assistance. And "additional countries are already putting forces into Iraq," he said.

Attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq won't cease within the next two or three months, Rumsfeld pointed out, noting "it will take time to root out the remnants of the Saddam Hussein regime."

However, "we intend to do it," Rumsfeld told reporters.

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