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More Regime Leaders Captured, 3 Marines Die in Accident

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 24, 2003 – The Iraqi deck lost three more cards April 23, and coalition special operations forces took into custody another regime member who might be able to name all the Iraqi spies in the United States.

Also, three Marines died and seven more were injured the same day when the rocket-propelled grenade launcher they were testing malfunctioned. The Marines were based near Al Kut in southeastern Iraq. Names are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

U.S. Central Command officials said they captured Muzahim Sa'b Hassan al Tikriti, who had served as Iraq's air defense force commander. There were no details of the capture of the highest-ranking regime figure so far. In the Iraqi deck of cards, he was the queen of diamonds.

According to news reports, Zuhayr Talib Abd al Sattar al Naqib, who had been Iraq's director of military intelligence, gave himself up to U.S. Army personnel in Baghdad. Naqib was the "7" of hearts.

The third official taken was Muhammad Mahdi al-Salih, the former Iraqi trade minister. There were no details of the detention for the "6" of hearts.

Special operations personnel wounded an enemy loyalist while capturing Khalaf al Jumayli, chief of the American desk of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, also known as the Mukhabarat. While not one of the top 55, he might yield valuable information, said CENTCOM officials.

"He is suspected of having knowledge of Iraqi Intelligence Service activities in the United States, including the names of persons spying for Iraq," command spokesman Jim Wilkinson said April 23.

CENTCOM officials said Marines from the 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion have started border-screening patrols on Iraq's northeastern border with Iran.

The patrols will help maintain Iraqi territorial integrity and will also assist Iraqi exiles' return home.

The patrols will also help keep out people seeking to destabilize the country, said Central Command operations officials. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said President Bush has warned Iran through channels not to interfere with Iraq.

"The president thinks it's essential that the Iraqi people determine their own future, that they are capable of doing so and they will be able to do so," Fleischer said during an April 23 briefing.

"We note some recent reports about Iranian activities, and we have made clear to Iran that we would oppose any outside organization's interference in Iraq, interfering with their road to democracy," he said. "Infiltration of agents to destabilize the Shia population clearly fall into that category, and that is a position that we have made clear to the government of Iran."

CENTCOM said the Marines will search and interview all people attempting to enter and leave Iraq through Iran. They will be prepared to detain all former regime officials, third-country nationals and insurgents.

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