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American Forces Press Service

Coalition Continues Offensive Operations in Iraq>

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 17, 2004 - Calling the military situation in Iraq "relatively stable," Combined Joint Task Force 7's deputy operations director detailed recent military activity during a Baghdad news conference today.

Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said the past week has seen an average of 17 engagements daily against coalition military forces, just over four per day against Iraqi security forces and fewer than two per day against Iraqi civilians.

"The coalition remains offensively oriented in order to proactively attack, kill or capture anti-coalition elements and enemies of the Iraqi people," the general said, "to also obtain intelligence for future operations, and to (assure) the people of Iraq of our determination to establish a safe and secure environment."

Toward those ends, he said, the coalition conducted 1,482 patrols, 27 offensive operations and 10 raids in the 24 hours leading up to today's news conference, capturing 61 anti-coalition suspects.

Kimmitt provided a geographic breakdown of recent operations:

In the north, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 53 patrols and three offensive operations, detaining 10 suspects. At a traffic-control point in Mosul, coalition soldiers detained two people, one of whom had $50,000 in U.S. currency sewn into his jacket and an unregistered pistol. He did have a temporary weapons permit and claimed to be a politician. An investigation revealed that neither man was a government official. Both were detained and are being held for questioning.

The Stryker Brigade conducted a cordon-and-knock operation in Mosul on Feb. 15, searching for a man believed to have been supplying weapons to anti-coalition sympathizers. The soldiers found and detained him without incident.

Coalition forces today accepted the surrender of a man Kimmitt called "a high-value target." Abed Nashid is a suspected Wahabist, one who practices a fundamentalist sect of Islam, and a weapons dealer.

In the north-central zone, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 407 patrols and four raids, capturing five anti-coalition suspects.

An unmanned aerial vehicle on Feb. 15 observed three men loitering in a field north of Baqubah that had been used as a mortar-firing point. An AH-64 Apache helicopter was sent to the area, and the UAV re-established contact with the site, where seven more men had joined the original three. Coalition forces fired on them and sent a quick-reaction force to the area. A search of the field determined one enemy had been killed, and soldiers found two mortar tubes and ammunition.

Also on Feb. 15, a raid near Muqdadiyah targeted weapons dealers who had sold weapons to a coalition intelligence source. Three suspected dealers were captured.

A raid today near Baji targeted four people suspected of conducting attacks against coalition forces. Three were captured, but no weapons or contraband were found.

In Baghdad, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 565 patrols and 38 escort missions and captured 11 anti- coalition suspects.

Forces in the western zone conducted 207 patrols, including 15 independent patrols by Iraqi Civil Defense Corps personnel, and 16 anti-coalition suspects were detained.

In the west, one enemy was killed and nine were captured Feb. 16 in an operation south of Fallujah that targeted two men believed to be anti-coalition cell leaders. One primary target was among those captured.

A coalition observation post north of Ramadi was fired upon Feb. 15 from two boats on the Euphrates River. Personnel at the post returned fire, and aircraft tracked the boats to an island. The pilots saw five men unloading mortars, crates and weapons and notified Iraqi police, who cleared the island and reported that two enemy personnel were killed in the operation.

Coalition forces raided two homes suspected of housing foreign fighters, weapons and contraband in Ramadi. Five people were captured.

In the central-south zone, coalition and Iraqi forces conducted 80 patrols, set up 35 checkpoints and escorted 41 convoys.

Explosive ordnance personnel in the southeast zone found and destroyed "significant amounts of munitions" near Nasiriyah on Feb. 15, Kimmitt said. The soldiers disposed of two 82 mm mortar shells, five 60 mm mortar shells, a rifle grenade, 87 120 mm mortar rounds and eight 120 mm smoke shells.

Four explosions rocked a captured enemy ammunition depot Feb. 16 at Tallil. A patrol responded and detained 15 Iraqis with ammunition and handed them over to Iraqi police.

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