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Four Soldiers Killed in Iraq; Hundreds of Terrorists Detained

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 23, 2005 – Four U.S. soldiers were killed May 22 in operations in Iraq, while coalition and Iraqi forces continue to round up weapons and suspected terrorists.

Three soldiers attached to Task Force Freedom were killed and one was injured in two separate terrorist attacks in Mosul, military officials in Baghdad reported. The injured soldier was taken to a combat hospital for treatment.

One Task Force Liberty soldier died of his wounds after a car bomb exploded near a combat patrol in Tikrit, officials said. The names of the deceased are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

In other operations, coalition and Iraqi forces in Baghdad detained 285 suspected terrorists in less than 24 hours, officials said today. The action was part of Operation Squeeze Play, a "massive joint combat operation," which is still under way, to hunt down, kill or capture terrorists who have been staging attacks in the Iraqi capital.

"This is the largest combined operation with Iraqi security forces to date," U.S. Army Lt. Col. Clifford Kent, a Task Force Baghdad spokesman, said. He noted Iraqi forces have taken the lead in this operation, with U.S. forces in a support role.

Also in Baghdad, Task Force Baghdad units captured 15 suspected terrorists in early-morning raids throughout the city on May 22. One raid netted two suspects and $6 million in U.S. currency. Another raid yielded 14 mortar rounds.

In northern Iraq, another 12 suspected terrorists were detained and two caches of weapons were seized in operations in Mosul on May 22.

Iraqi forces in Baghdad discovered three caches of weapons May 22. The caches included 17 mortar rounds, a number of rockets, three grenades, three AK-47 assault rifles, a chemical mask, 135 anti-aircraft rounds, machine-gun ammunition, a police radio and speaker, and six fuses. One cache was discovered as a result of a tip from an Iraqi citizen.

"The majority of Iraqis are fed up with terrorism and terrorists, and they're doing something about it by turning them in," Kent said.

Iraqi and coalition forces have realized some recent successes in thwarting attacks.

Three terrorists were captured and arrested following a failed attempt to plant a bomb in the center of a road near the Al Suckar Bridge, in southern Baghdad today. After being fired upon by Task Force Baghdad soldiers, the terrorists fled the scene. Two were injured, and Iraqi police notified local authorities.

The terrorists were later captured when they sought treatment at a local hospital, coalition officials said. Kent credited the successful outcome to the "quick thinking and keen observation of Iraqi police and the cooperation of hospital personnel."

In Samarra, Task Force Liberty soldiers repelled an attack by terrorists who detonated two car bombs at the perimeter of a coalition base today. One terrorist was killed when he detonated his explosive vest after being shot by coalition forces. Four U.S. soldiers received minor injuries and were expected to return to duty today.

A tip from a local civilian led Iraqi forces from the 2nd Public Order Brigade in eastern Baghdad to three roadside bombs, including one set up next to a preschool, May 22. The Iraqi forces were able to safely dismantle all the bombs.

Four individuals are in custody in connection with the explosive device near the Alkawther preschool.

"Many children would have been killed if this device would have been used," U.S. Capt. Rick Ackerman, an adviser to the Iraqi unit, said.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq news releases.)

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