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American Forces Press Service

Coalition-Iraqi Raids Flush Out More Terror Suspects>

By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 21, 2004 -- Coalition and Iraqi security forces rounded up several terrorist targets during overnight raids, including a former mayor of Tikrit and a cousin of Saddam Hussein suspected of providing false passports for individuals crossing the Iraq-Syria border.

During an operational briefing today from Baghdad, Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy operations director for Combined Joint Task Force 7, told reporters that in the past 24 hours coalition forces have conducted 1,400 patrols, 30 offensive operations and 20 raids, and captured 55 anti-coalition suspects.

In the northern zone of operations, he said coalition forces conducted three simultaneous operations and detained three men who had weapons and information useful in planning an anti-coalition attack.

Kimmitt said coalition forces also captured a man Feb. 19 who admitted placing and detonating a bomb hidden in mound of garbage along a road leading to a coalition forward operating base. He said that no one was hurt in the explosion and that the man gave coalition forces the name of the person who paid him to execute the bombing.

In the western zone of operations, Kimmitt said coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 249 patrols, including 15 independent Iraqi Civil Defense Corps patrols. He said 16 anti-coalition suspects were taken into custody.

Kimmitt also noted that early Feb. 20, coalition forces went after two anti- coalition cells operating in the region. Ten enemy personnel were detained, along with 30 rockets, 13 missiles, 260 artillery and mortar rounds, and over 35,000 rounds of ammunition.

The deputy operations director said there have been an average of 19 engagements daily against coalition military and slightly more than four attacks daily against Iraqi security forces. Attacks against Iraqi civilians are fewer than two per day.

Kimmitt also responded to a question whether the U.S. Army would consider putting more troops on the Iraqi border to stop foreign terrorists from entering the country. "We have not declaratively said that terrorists only come from outside the country," Kimmitt pointed out. "In fact there are a number of organizations inside this country that we believe to be responsible for attacks on Iraqi citizens and coalition forces.

"The problem of terrorism is not one that can just be stopped by putting a wall a mile high around a 1,700kilometer border," he said. "If terrorists are clever enough to set up the type of bombs we've seen, they're certainly clever enough to get through the borders."

Kimmitt added that terrorism is something that should be fought not only at the border but also throughout the "width and breadth of this country."

He said that by advocating continued partnerships with the Iraqis and building trust, he is hopeful that Iraqis will report suspicious activities in their neighborhoods to coalition and Iraqi security forces.

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