Coalition Forces Disrupt Terrorists in Central, Northern Iraq
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2008 Coalition forces killed six terrorists, detained 28 terrorism suspects and discovered three weapons caches during operations over the past two days disrupting al Qaeda networks operating in central and northern Iraq.
In operations today:
-- Coalition forces targeted associates of a senior al Qaeda foreign-terrorist facilitator during two coordinated operations in Mosul. The terrorist leader reportedly leads a group of foreign terrorists and suicide bombers responsible for an attack that resulted in the death of five coalition soldiers Jan. 28. Reports led coalition forces to an area where one of the suspects was believed to be operating. Forces killed one terrorist and destroyed a vehicle to prevent its further use for terrorist operations. In the eastern portion of the city, coalition forces detained six suspected terrorists for their alleged association with the terrorist leader.
-- Coalition forces captured an individual in Beiji who is allegedly an al Qaeda cell leader. The suspect reportedly leads and coordinates attacks on coalition forces in the region. He also is believed to be a close associate of the al Qaeda senior leader for the network, as well as a member of an anti-coalition forces group active in the region. Local citizens led the ground force to the individual, and he was detained along with one additional suspect.
-- Coalition forces in Tikrit captured an alleged member of an al Qaeda media and propaganda cell with suspected ties to al Qaeda senior leadership. Coalition forces detained three suspected terrorists in addition to the wanted suspect.
-- Iraqi and coalition security forces conducted an operation targeting special group criminal elements today in eastern Baghdad. Sixteen criminals were initially detained; one died later from wounds received during the operation. As ground forces approached the target house they came under attack by small-arms fire. Iraqi and coalition forces returned fire , mortally wounding one terrorist. A woman also suffered a minor injury and was treated on site by military medical personnel. The operation targeted members of a group believed to be responsible for multiple indirect-fire and explosively formed penetrator attacks against Iraqi and coalition forces, as well as the kidnapping and murder of Iraqi citizens.
In operations yesterday:
-- Coalition forces conducted an operation in the Diyala River Valley targeting al Qaeda associates involved in weapons smuggling and attacks against coalition forces. Reports indicate that coalition success in degrading the networks in Baghdad has pushed groups of al Qaeda into the valley, where they are seeking safe haven. Forces confirmed the presence of enemy personnel in the target area and called for supporting aircraft to engage, killing five terrorists. As the ground force cleared the area, they discovered numerous weapons, including 12 machine guns and ammunition, multiple mortar tubes, two anti-aircraft weapons, and multiple rocket-propelled grenades. The weapons were safely destroyed, along with a vehicle in the target area, to prevent future use by terrorists.
-- Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers came upon a weapons cache including 56 60 mm mortar rounds, 43 82 mm mortar rounds and 19 120 mm mortar rounds while patrolling Ghazaliyah. The soldiers apprehended a suspected terrorist in connection with the cache find. In addition, the soldiers discovered a second cache, consisting of two 105 mm artillery rounds, a 120 mm artillery round, eight 121 mm mortar rounds, four 81 mm mortar rounds, 71 60 mm mortar rounds and 66 rocket-propelled-grenade propellants.
-- Coalition forces conducting a boat patrol south of Baghdad were engaged by small-arms fire. They returned fire and called supporting aircraft to engage. Following the engagement, ground forces arrived to assess the scene and discovered that the location where the small-arms fire originated was a local citizens’ checkpoint. The Iraqis had mistakenly fired on coalition forces, who followed proper self-defense measures in response to the threat, officials said. The building next to the checkpoint was struck by the supporting aircraft fire, killing an Iraqi civilian and damaging the building. "Coalition forces sincerely regret when any innocent civilian is killed during our operations, and the man's family has our deepest condolences," said Army Maj. Winfield Danielson, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman. "We only engage what we believe to be hostile threats and take every precaution to protect innocent civilians, specifically to minimize the chances of a tragedy like this."
In operations earlier this week:
-- Coalition forces working with intelligence from police in northern Iraq liberated two men locked inside a large storage container being used as a subterranean prison in the Al Jazeera desert near Samarra on Feb. 4. The hostages, both from Yethrib village near Balad, were taken from a gas station along with a fuel truck by men in black masks. The two men were malnourished and dehydrated, but showed no signs of torture. "The two individuals told us they were taken because their station didn't pay al Qaeda extremists," said Army 1st Lt. Todd Baldwin, of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment. After receiving medical attention at Forward Operating Base Brassfield-Mora, near Samarra, the men said up to nine other people were held prisoner. The two men didn't know what happened to the others, but mentioned five of them were from Sons of Iraq, a neighborhood watch group, in Beiji. "Iraqi police and Sons of Iraq were the driving forces in the rescue of the two men," Baldwin said. "They provided the human intelligence for us to conduct the rescue operation."
-- Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers arrested a suspected criminal in the Jihad neighborhood of southern Baghdad on Feb. 4. The man is believed to be a former lieutenant colonel in the Iraqi army and is suspected of using money taken from contracts to finance weapons trafficking to destabilize the neighborhood. The suspect was taken to a coalition forces detention facility for further questioning.
-- An Iraqi civilian provided information that enabled Iraqi and coalition forces to unearth a large cache 7 kilometers south of Ramadi on Feb. 4. The buried cache consisted of 120 23 mm rounds, three 82 mm mortar rounds, three antiaircraft weapons, 4,000 14.5 mm ammunition rounds, and 70 pounds of assorted propellant. An explosive ordnance disposal team destroyed the munitions at the site with a controlled detonation.
-- Policemen from 1st Brigade, 7th Iraqi National Police Division, arrested a man believed to be an al Qaeda operative after he tried to pass through a traffic control checkpoint in Massafee on Feb. 3. The man, suspected of murder, placing improvised explosive devices and weapons trafficking, was taken to an Iraqi facility for further questioning.
-- Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers captured two suspected al Qaeda cell members in two separate raids in Doura on Feb. 3. During the first raid, soldiers knocked on the door of a home believed to be a terrorist sniper and arrested a man matching the extremist's name and description. The man is accused of setting up false checkpoints to kidnap Shiite and Christian Iraqis in the Arab Jabour region of the city. Later, soldiers arrested a man accused of murder, forcibly displacing families and placing bombs in the Doura area. Both alleged extremists were taken to a coalition forces detention facility for further questioning.
(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq and Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)