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Coalition Forces Still Conducting Operations

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 16, 2003 – While major combat action is certainly winding down in Iraq, coalition forces are still conducting operations in the country, said U.S. Central Command officials in Qatar today.

In Al Ramadi April 15, a commander with the 3rd Infantry Division accepted the capitulation of the Iraqi regular army 12th Armor Brigade that was stationed in that area, said Army Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, a CENTCOM spokesman. The unit had been defending the main road from Baghdad to Jordan.

The Iraqi unit had been in contact with coalition special operations forces. "Most of the force had already been released from service," Brooks said.

"But the commander had 40 soldiers that remained there to actually guard the equipment in the garrison. While there still may Ba'ath Party loyalists in Al Ramadi, it's clear that the organized resistance there has come to an end."

Brooks said the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force maintained the isolation of Baghdad along the eastern side of the city. The Marines also cleared additional zones in the center of the city and conducted joint patrols with Iraqis. "The remaining areas in Baghdad that have not yet been cleared are all suspected to harbor armed regime loyalists," he said.

Other 1st Marine units continued to secure Tikrit, Brooks said, while British forces secured oil facilities in the south and searched for the remnants of any irregular forces in the vicinity of Basra.

Coalition air activities have scaled back. Coalition aircraft flew 1,050 sorties yesterday with 275 being strike sorties. The only category to remain constant was airlift sorties. Coalition forces flew 425 airlift sorties. Defense officials said these aircraft are not only carrying military supplies and personnel, but also humanitarian supplies. They also flew 10 aeromedical evacuation flights April 15.

The general said that all coalition land units are conducting humanitarian assistance assessments in their areas. "Coalition forces report that looting has dramatically reduced throughout the area of operations, and normal activities are starting to occur," he said.

Commanders are using all available avenues to communicate with the Iraqi people, including leaflets, handbills, loudspeaker teams and radio broadcasts.

"Coalition land component units continued several meetings with the Iraqi leaders regarding critical needs and issues," he said. "In a number of areas, control of infrastructure and the organs of governance are back in the hands of the Iraqi people.

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