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Troops Detain 19 Suspects, Seize Weapons in Iraq

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 10, 2007 – Iraqi and coalition forces detained 19 suspects and captured weapons caches during recent operations in Iraq.

Tips from two Iraqi residents near Dhour, south of Baghdad, helped coalition forces nab seven suspects yesterday, including an al Qaeda network leader, military officials said.

The first tipster called soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division’s 89th Cavalry Regiment and alerted them to a weapons cache. Soldiers responded, located the buried weapons, and had been digging up the cache for five minutes when they received another phone call.

The second caller claimed he had the 2nd Brigade Combat Team’s top high-value target and would deliver him to coalition custody. This tipster arranged a meeting place to hand the detainee over to Army Capt. Adam Sawyer, the Troop C commander.

Soldiers hastily re-buried the cache and departed for the meeting place, where they took custody of the high-value detainee and two other suspects.

During the exchange, some of the soldiers observed the cache from their vantage point, and were surprised to see a civilian pickup truck stop near the cache. As four men began to load the weapons into the truck bed, troops engaged the vehicle with an M-240 machine gun.

Troop C soldiers detained the suspects as they tried to flee, and called an explosive ordnance disposal team to destroy the weapons.

“All of this was possible because of sources we've developed, through local-national engagements and working with the residents of the area,” Sawyer said. “It's our work with the people in these areas, our relations with them, paying off.”

The high-value target allegedly is responsible for shooting down an AH-64 helicopter in April 2006, abducting two soldiers two months later, and mounting complex attacks against patrol bases, coalition forces and Iraqi civilians, military officials said. Additionally, he is believed to be the leader of an al Qaeda network known for murdering and intimidating those who oppose the terrorist organization.

One of the detainees had been wounded in a previous engagement, and was taken to a coalition hospital for treatment. The other suspects six are being held for further questioning.

During two operations in Baghdad July 8, Iraqi special operations forces detained 12 insurgents linked to the rogue Jaysh al-Mahdi militia. These insurgents allegedly are responsible for attacks against Iraqi and coalition forces, military officials said.

In the first operation, the Iraqi special operations forces and coalition advisors detained 11 targeted individuals believed responsible for attacks using explosively formed penetrators against combined forces in the Hay al Aamel area. EFPs are improvised explosive devices designed to penetrate armor.

In the second operation, combined troops detained the alleged leader of a cell responsible for direct and indirect fire, and improvised explosive devices attacks on Iraqi and coalition forces. His capture will disrupt this cell's ability to carry out death squad activities against innocent civilians, military officials said.

Troops also seized weapons and ammunition, cell phones and assorted documents. No Iraqi or coalition forces were injured during this operation.

(Compiled from Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)

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