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Cavalry clears insurgents from Diwaniya

Army News Service

Release Date: 5/12/2004

By Pfc. Erik LeDrew

DIWANIYA, Iraq (Army News Service, May 12, 2004) -- In the few weeks since the "Wolfpack" squadron of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment started patrolling the south-central Iraqi city of Diwaniya along the Euphrates, the Soldiers have been hard at work scattering insurgent forces.

The 3rd Squadron launched a large-scale mission May 4: "Operation Wolfpack Crunch."

"(The insurgents) had to figure as soon as we rolled into town that a mission like this one would happen," said Capt. Jon Dunn, K Troop commander.

The mission's target was a series of buildings, located near an old downtown theater, which were reportedly being used by members of the "Muqtada's Militia" to plan and stage attacks against Coalition forces.

Next to the targeted building was one used as the local headquarters for the Dawa Islamic Party -- until it was evicted by the militia.

"We deliberately didn't attack the Dawa party building," Dunn said. "We took great pains to spare it."

At approximately 9:45 p.m. May 4, air assets fired on the targeted building.

"Right after that, we launched a tank and a scout platoon to form an inner cordon around the immediate city block of the headquarters," he continued.

After the cordon was in place, the assault force moved in.

"We moved three platoons inside the compound's walls," he said. "We had one platoon clear the Sadr headquarters building and the Dawa Party's headquarters building next to it."

According to Dunn, a portion of the old theater was suspected of being used as a jail to hold Iraqis opposed to the militia.

"We had another platoon search the bombed-out theater next door and an area we suspected was being used as a jail," he said. "We didn't find anyone in the jail. We found only one person at the headquarters and he was unarmed.

"Once we were done clearing the building, we fired four tank main-gun rounds into the headquarters building to further destroy it so as to prevent its future use by the insurgents, " he said.

After destroying the building, a force was left to maintain security of the compound and guard it from looters and any militiamen that might return.

"The following morning," Dunn continued, "we went to a girl's school across the street that was reportedly being used by the militia. We found a significant weapons cache there."

Neighborhood residents reported that the school had not been open for more than two weeks, Dunn said.

Soldiers discovered and seized AK-47 assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, mortar and tank rounds and small arms ammunition. The weapons and ammunition were destroyed.

"(An explosive ordnance disposal team) took all of the weapons that we found. They'll take those somewhere safe, put 'em in a pile, slap some C-4 (explosive) on them, and be done with them," Dunn said.

"Our plan is to reopen the school as soon as possible," he added.

The head of the Iraqi Tribal Council drove to Diwaniya from Baghdad later that day, Dunn said.

"He seemed happy and impressed that there was a great effort on our part to avoid injuring bystanders and (avoid) destroying the surrounding buildings," he said. "He knew that we could've destroyed the town, but instead took great pains to minimize the collateral damage."

The squadron will continue to maintain security around the buildings for several days, Dunn said.

"Now, we're simply maintaining security of the site to ensure the building doesn't get retaken by the Muqtada's militia or looted by some disheartened Iraqis," he said. "We're working with (the Coalition Provisional Authority) to coordinate handing back this building to the Dawa Party. Once that's accomplished, we'll move on to another mission."

(Editor's note: Pfc. Erik LeDrew writes for the 1st Armored Division Public Affairs Section.)

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