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Weapons seized, four soldiers hurt during Operation Peninsula Strike

Army News Service

By Spc. Derek Dexter June 16, 2003

AD DULUIYAH, Iraq (Army News Service June 16, 2003) -- The 4th Infantry Division and supporting units from Task Force Ironhorse concluded an extensive raid on June 12 as part of Operation Peninsula Strike, involving thousands of soldiers.

The operation led to the capture of approximately 400 detainees and the seizure of numerous weapons systems and ammunition. Detainees were screened and questioned, with approximately 60 detainees being released. In addition to capturing the five people from the U.S. government's most wanted list, several other high-standing party members were also detained.

The operation took place in two major stages. The first stage involved moving soldiers and equipment into strike positions, intelligence gathering, and coordination with local police. Along with the 3rd Bde, 4th ID, units from the, the 173rd Airborne Brigade, and 3rd Infantry Division's 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment were involved.

During the second stage, soldiers conducted coordinated raids within the target area via land, air and water to capture or destroy terrorist elements. Air assault teams, ground attack forces, raid teams, river patrol boats and local security combined forces to block off escape routes and operate check points and systematically sweep the areas suspected of housing terrorists.

In the early morning hours, coalition forces converged on the city of Ad Duluiyah with the goal of arresting five people on the top 55 most wanted list of former Ba'ath party members and of removing any paramilitary personnel in the area.

Two former Iraqi generals surrendered to military forces during the raids. Maj. Gen. Abul Ali Jasmin, Secretary of Defense Ministry and Brig. Gen. Abdullah Ali Jasmin, Head of the Iraqi Military Academy, are now being detained and questioned.

During the operation, the 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, worked with the 720th Military Police Battalion scouring the streets and looking for people attempting to escape by vehicle. Infantrymen, MPs, and combat engineers conducted house searches in targeted areas.

Members of the 57th Aviation and 159th Aviation Battalions provided air support.

"This is an area where a lot of violence against U.S. troops is originating from," said Lt. Col. Philip Battaligia, commander of 1st Bn, 8th Infantry. "What we wanted to do was [establish] a presence and maintain a [level of] security, which I think we have done."

During the operation, four soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade were injured and evacuated out of the area and are listed in stable condition during the operation. There were no U.S. soldiers killed during the operation. Two hostile Iraqi civilians were wounded, treated and sent to medical facilities.

Three specialists - Tamer Hassanien, Kobie Johnson and John Oldenburg -- and Pfc. James Volpe were injured in an apparent ambush while driving between two traffic control points.

The soldiers from the Scout Platoon, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment, were injured when their vehicles were fired on from what later turned out to be a police station, said 1st Sgt. John Bagby, first sergeant of HHC, 2nd Bn, 503rd PIR.

Hassanien, Johnson and Oldenburg received non-life threatening wounds. Volpe was treated and released back to his unit.

Overall, the soldiers preformed "magnificently" during the search, said Battaligia, commander of 1st Bn, 8th Infantry. "They seized the objectives they were assigned and did it extremely well."

The success of Operation Peninsula Strike marks a significant step forward in the ongoing journey toward a safe, secure and free Iraq, said Battaligia.

(Editor's note: Spc. Derek Dexter is a journalist with the Task Force Ironhorse public affairs office. The 173rd Airborne Brigade PAO contributed to this story)

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