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Task Force Baghdad Secures Salman Pak as a Part of "Operation Triple Play"

Salman Pak, Iraq
- To improve security for the upcoming elections in Iraq, Task Force Baghdad troops executed "Operation Triple Play" Dec. 31 in order to hinder the ability of insurgent groups to plan and resource large operations. Large scale cordon and search operations in two other cities, in addition to Salman Pak, were conducted with great success by Iraqi National Guardsmen, and U.S. Soldiers and Marines.

When the people of Salman Pak, a small town 12 miles south of Baghdad, rose the morning of Dec. 31, they found themselves in the midst of hundreds of Task Force Baghdad Soldiers and Iraqi National Guardsmen on the prowl for illegal weapons and wanted insurgents.

"Elements of the 1st Cavalry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team, including 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment; 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment; and 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, set up checkpoints and conducted precision searches of a multitude of previously designated targets that resulted in the capture of several known terrorists," said Capt. Brian O'Malley, the 1st Brigade Combat Team's Public Affairs Officer.

O'Malley added that Iraqi National Guard troops also conducted raids and manned checkpoints alongside U.S. Soldiers throughout the operation.

By the end of the operation in Salman Pak, which lasted two days, several terrorist and insurgent targets had been captured and a large weapons cache that included rocket-propelled grenade rounds, RPG launchers, mortar rounds, AK-47 rifles, hand grenades, bomb-making materials, and body armor, had been recovered.

"The raids were part of a larger effort to prevent any forces that would be interested in influencing the upcoming elections from being able to do so by taking their weapons and taking out some of their leaders, preventing them from being able to organize in time to keep people from voting," O'Malley said.

In order to prevent the escape of those targeted by the raids, no one was allowed to leave town unless it was a medical emergency. This tactic upset many, who had business to conduct or family in Baghdad and other places, said one Salman Pak man through an interpreter.

"Since [multinational forces] have come two days ago, the people have been hurt," the man said. "Why? Because the road is cut . and they are afraid. There may be fighting and shooting, and we are suffering from the terrorists."

"The cordon was necessary," O'Malley said, "to keep targets from fleeing and to keep innocent people from becoming involved."

Terrorists had been extorting money from the town long before the operation by inflating prices at the local gas station to fund their operations, O'Malley said.

"Those people are the worst people in our society. I am afraid about my children, my family, [and] my occupation," he said. "When American Forces wave to us and say hello to us, we are happy to see them in our town to protect us.

"We were afraid before [multinational forces] got here," the man said. "We thought [they] were going to be the same thing as in Fallujah. We do not want to be like Fallujah. We are peaceful people."

Release #050105g

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