Troops Kill 5, Nab 30, Destroy Terrorist Tunnels in Iraq
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 18, 2007 Iraqi and coalition forces killed five suspected terrorists, detained 30 others and destroyed insurgent tunnels and weapons in Iraq over the past three days, military officials said.
In Iraq today:
-- Coalition forces captured a suspected “special groups” leader and detained 11 others during operations in the Aziziyah area, southeast of Baghdad. The alleged leader reportedly received special weapons training, which he passed along to criminal element members who sought to attack Iraqi and coalition troops. He also holds alleged ties to several senior-level leaders involved in attacks on coalition forces, military officials said.
-- Troops captured a wanted individual allegedly involved in a foreign terrorist facilitation network during an operation in Bayji. The wanted individual reportedly is a close associate of several senior facilitators, military officials said. Coalition forces nabbed two other suspected terrorists on site.
-- Coalition forces captured a wanted suspect involved in foreign terrorist facilitation during an operation in Mosul. Reports indicate he is tied to numerous senior terrorists, including an al Qaeda in Iraq leader for the network north of Mosul. The individual identified himself to ground forces, who subsequently detained him.
-- East of Samarra, troops captured three suspected terrorists during an operation targeting al Qaeda members associated with the network in Salah ad Din.
During operations in Iraq yesterday:
-- Coalition forces killed five suspected terrorists and detained another north of Muqdadiyah while targeting associates of an al Qaeda in Iraq cell leader operating in Shirween. Supporting aircraft engaged and killed the armed men as they attacked ground forces from positions in a terrorist safe house, military officials said.
-- Troops captured a wanted individual in Mosul believed to be the former leader of the Fallujah terrorist network, and an associate of the Karmah network. Ground forces detained one additional suspected terrorist.
-- South of Samarra and southwest of Hawaji, coalition forces detained five suspected terrorists while targeting associates of the networks operating north of Baghdad and in Hawija, military officials said.
On Dec. 16, coalition forces captured a wanted individual South of Balad believed to be directly associated with the leader for the al Qaeda network operating north of Baghdad. The network is responsible for car-bomb and improvised-explosive-device attacks, and is involved in extortion, intimidation, weapons trafficking, and facilitating foreign terrorists’ movement. In addition to the wanted individual, the ground force detained two suspects on site without incident.
“There is no place for al Qaeda in Iraq,” said Navy Cmdr. Ed Buclatin, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman. “We will continue to conduct operations to root out al Qaeda in Iraq in order to secure a safer country for the people of Iraq.”
Northwest of Iskandariyah on Dec. 16, U.S. forces discovered a network of underground tunnels used by al Qaeda in Iraq to store weapons, hide fighters and launch attacks against coalition forces.
Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, discovered a cache of improvised explosive device components and were investigating the materials when they unearthed the tunnel network along the Euphrates River.
The tunnels provided access to numerous al Qaeda fighting positions, military officials said. Inside, coalition forces found several machine-gun rounds, which led troops to believe the tunnels may have served as enemy firing positions for anti-aircraft guns, as well as hiding places for terrorist fighters after launching attacks.
Coalition air teams rained missiles and bombs on the tunnels, completely collapsing the network.
U.S. and Iraqi soldiers are in the area as part of Operation Marne Roundup, the latest coalition offensive to target extremists around Iskandariyah that launched Dec. 15. After securing the area, coalition forces plan to build Patrol Base Khidr, a security outpost where Iraqi police will coordinate efforts with local citizens to secure major roads leading to and from Iskandariyah.
Elsewhere in Iraq on Dec. 16, a scout weapons team from the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade destroyed a vehicle transporting mortars near Arab Jabour, military officials said.
Meanwhile, a group of concerned local citizens in the area turned over a cache of weapons to soldiers from Company D, 1-30th Infantry Regiment. The cache, which was later destroyed, contained 10 rocket-propelled grenades, 10 pounds of dynamite, a grenade and 90 blasting caps.
(Compiled from Multinational Corps Iraq and Multinational Force Iraq news releases.)