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Coalition Forces Detain 13 Suspects in Iraq Operations

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 16, 2008 – Coalition forces detained 13 suspected terrorists during operations yesterday and today targeting al-Qaida in Iraq networks in the Tigris River Valley and northwestern Iraq.

-- Coalition forces captured two suspected terrorists yesterday during an operation west of Samarra, including an alleged close associate of a regional al-Qaida in Iraq leader. Intelligence gathered yesterday also led the ground force to another target this morning, where they detained two more suspected associates of the al-Qaida leader.

-- Using information from recently detained suspects, coalition forces conducted a precision operation southwest of Taji today and apprehended a suspected al-Qaida agent believed to associate with several different terrorist cells.

-- Coalition forces detained six suspects today during an operation northwest of Tal Afar targeting terrorists who facilitate the movement of foreigners who enter Iraq to plan and conduct criminal attacks.

-- In Beiji today, coalition forces detained two suspected terrorists while targeting an individual believed to conspire directly with the leader of a car-bombing network and a weapons supplier.

“Coalition forces will use the information we gain from these captured suspects to target and capture additional al-Qaida in Iraq leaders and other terrorist operatives,” said Navy Cmdr. Scott Rye, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman. “These efforts assist in allowing us to disrupt terrorists’ networks and degrade their ability to operate.”

In other operations today, a coalition Predator unmanned aerial vehicle observed five criminals attack an Iraqi army patrol with rocket-propelled grenades on the eastern side of the Hayyaniyah district at about 1:00 a.m. The UAV engaged the criminals and fired a Hellfire missile, killing four and wounding one. The criminals' vehicle was suspected of containing more weapons and ammunition and engaged and destroyed by a second Hellfire missile.

"The message is clear to those that continue to obstruct the rule of law in Basra," said Capt. Chris Ford, a spokesman for coalition forces in Basra. "Those attacking the Iraqi army and other government of Iraq security forces will be targeted as part of enduring coalition support to the people of Iraq."

Also today, coalition forces targeted a senior al-Qaida in Iraq leader during a series of operations in Mosul, killing one terrorist and detaining five suspects.

As it approached one target location, the ground force immediately received small-arms fire from enemy positions. Coalition forces returned fire, suppressing the attack. As the ground force called for occupants of one building to surrender, a man came out and refused to put down his pistol despite repeated warnings from coalition forces and an interpreter. The armed man demonstrated hostile intent, forcing coalition forces to engage him, subsequently killing the man, U.S. officials said. A woman who was standing directly behind the terrorist also was killed when rounds passed through him. Five suspected terrorists were detained in the operations.

“Terrorists continue to put innocent civilians at risk through their total disregard for human life,” Rye said. “Coalition forces go to great lengths to avoid civilian deaths, and we lament the loss of any civilian lives during our operations.”

In operations April 14:

-- With a tip from a local citizen, coalition and Iraqi army forces discovered a large cache of rockets in West Rashid, near Forward Operating Base Falcon. The cache consisted of 18 107 mm rockets, some still in their original packaging, and 20 rocket-launching stands. A citizen approached a soldier on guard at FOB Falcon with information on the whereabouts of the rockets. Soldiers from 4th Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, and Iraqi soldiers from 5th Battalion, 25th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, conducted a joint patrol and found the cache. The rockets were in an area assessed to be a historic point of origin for attacks against coalition forces and Iraqi security forces.

-- Iraqi security forces detained two criminal leaders wanted by the government of Iraq in separate operations April 14 in Basrah. An Iraqi emergency response unit captured the suspected leader and three other members of an improvised-explosive-device cell operating in the Basrah area. ntelligence reports indicate the cell has been involved in multiple attacks against Iraqi and coalition forces and in distributing IEDs and illegal weapons. A Hillah special weapons and tactics team detained the suspected leader of a criminal cell responsible for attacks against Iraqi and coalition forces. Seven suspected members of the cell also were detained.

-- Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers seized multiple rockets and weapons in different operations in the Rashid district in southern Baghdad. Soldiers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, seized more than a dozen 107 mm rockets with launchers that appear to be of Iranian manufacture. The soldiers also seized weapons during a security patrol in western Rashid. They captured rocket-propelled grenades and almost 100 shotgun rounds. The soldiers also detained a man accused of attacking coalition forces during the ongoing security operations in West Rashid.

Iraqi security forces detained two key suspects April 13 and 14 in Seddah and turned them over to coalition forces in Mussayib. The key suspects are believed to be responsible for multiple attacks on coalition forces and Iraqi police during the first week of April to include an improvised-explosive-device attack on Iraqi police April 3, transporting weapons and explosives, and burning a Badr Corps building April 1.

The joint effort between the Seddah police and soldiers with 2nd Platoon, Company C, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, was directed specifically to capture the battalion-level key suspects. The battalion has captured 30 key suspects, with 11 of those being at the brigade-level, since taking over operational control of the area in December. "Overall, the people of Seddah have completely rejected the attempts of criminals to incite violence in their town," said Army Capt. James R. Fournier, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry intelligence officer. "Almost immediately following an attack that occurred on the Iraqi police in Seddah, a number of citizens came forward and provided the information that allowed the IPs and coalition forces to detain these two criminals, who were responsible for the attack."

More than 200 citizens held a demonstration in Seddah on April 14 to further enforce their rejection of criminals and their support for Iraqi security forces' and coalition efforts, said Fournier, a native of Chicago.

Elsewhere, coalition forces patrolled a group of islands along the Tigris River during operations Apr. 12-14 and discovered that Sons of Iraq citizen security groups had already cleared an area once occupied by al-Qaida in Iraq terrorists. Local Iraqis in the area reported that the last time al-Qaida had a major presence in that region near Samarra was about two months ago. They told coalition forces that Sons of Iraq groups had forced many al-Qaida operations out of the area and remain vigilant in defending their neighborhoods against terrorist operations.

On Apr. 14, coalition forces detained one suspected terrorist during a joint coalition-Iraqi army patrol. During questioning, coalition forces determined the individual had multiple links to al-Qaida activities and weapons facilitators. One local Iraqi was wounded during the operation when he refused to comply with Iraqi army instructions while driving toward a joint patrol. Despite verbal signals, hand signals and warning shots, the man continued to approach the ground forces, and Iraqi army elements engaged the man, injuring him. He was treated for minor wounds by coalition medical personnel and was transported to a civilian hospital in the area.

“The vast majority of Iraqis have clearly rejected al-Qaida in Iraq’s extremist ways, and they want these terrorists out of their communities,” Rye, the Multinational Force Iraq spokesman. said. “Our operations will continue to help Iraqi citizens take back their communities and move toward a more peaceful future.”

(Compiled from Multinational Corps Iraq, Multinational Force Iraq and Multinational Division Baghdad news releases.)

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