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American Forces Press Service

Iraq Ops Yield Suspects, Weapons, Missing Artifacts

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 4, 2005 Operations in Iraq during the past three days yielded a terrorist hideaway, terror suspects, weapons and ammunition stockpiles, and a treasure chest of Iraqi artifacts looted from the Baghdad Museum more than two years ago.

In Anbar province, members of the 2nd Marine Division, operating alongside Iraqi security forces, located about 50 weapons and ammunition caches and a terrorist hideaway within the last 72 hours, Multinational Force Iraq officials said today.

The largest of the caches was found in an insurgent hideaway in an old rock quarry north of Karmah, officials said. There, a complex of underground bunkers contained four fully furnished living spaces, a kitchen with fresh food, two shower facilities and a working air conditioner. Officials said other rooms within the complex were filled with weapons, ammunition, black uniforms, ski masks, compasses, log books, night-vision goggles and fully charged cell phones.

Tips from local residents as well as information garnered from detainees have provided valuable intelligence on the locations of weapons caches, officials said.

On the Kharkh peninsula, a joint Iraqi-U.S. raid early June 3 recovered more than 30 artifacts that had gone missing following the initial liberation of Iraq in 2003, as well as five suspected terrorists, according to Multinational Force Iraq officials.

Iraqi soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 1st Brigade, and 6th Iraqi Army Division detained the suspects and turned the artifacts over to Iraqi authorities for safekeeping, officials said. The brigade recovered additional artifacts two days earlier.

Also in Iraq, soldiers from Task Force Baghdad unearthed a substantial weapons cache June 3 as part of Operation Lightning, focused on minimizing terrorist activity in the Iraqi capital. The operation involves 10 Iraqi Army battalions, 11 special police battalions and five U.S. brigades.

During the June 3 operation south of Baghdad, soldiers from A Company, 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, discovered the stockpile of weapons. It included 80 mortar fuses, 53 120 mm rounds, 16 60 mm rounds and a wide range of bombs, rocket-propelled grenade rounds, rockets, rifles and mortars, officials said.

An explosive ordnance disposal team detonated the unexploded munitions, officials said.

In north-central Baghdad, Iraqi police responded quickly and established order June 3 after a mid-afternoon mortar attack failed to cause significant damage when a round struck a hospital's respiratory center, officials said.

Shortly after 2 p.m., terrorists fired multiple mortar rounds at the respiratory center in the Baghdad Medical City Complex. One mortar round exploded on the respiratory center and another round exploded on the roof of a nearby house, officials said. The terrorists then sprayed the hospital with automatic rifle fire, killing one local citizen.

The incident is under investigation.

In south Baghdad, Iraqi Army soldiers detained several suspected terrorists June 2 on the first day of Operation Lightning South.

Officials said soldiers from the 1st Iraqi Intervention Force, 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, and 3rd Brigade, 3rd Iraqi Army Division, detained 12 suspected terrorists. Among those detained were a terrorist cell financier and a known informant.

The detainees are being held for further questioning, officials said.

"The Iraqi army is proving each day that their performance and ability to coordinate operations is improving," said Army Capt. Brendan Hobbs, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division battle captain. "They are able to execute their tasks and accomplish all of their assigned missions."

Also in Baghdad, Iraqi soldiers and coalition forces captured 15 terror suspects, including three targeted individuals, during a series of early-morning combat operations conducted throughout the capital June 1. The raided also yielded weapons, propaganda, plans and money, officials reported.

Iraqi soldiers conducted the largest operation, a cordon-and-search mission in west Baghdad that netted two detainees, a large amount of foreign currency, an AK-47 assault rifle and two handguns. The soldiers also found a computer with its hard drive intact and a large number of read/writeable CDs and floppy disks thought to contain terrorist propaganda and attack plans, officials said.

Iraqi soldiers also led four raids that led to the capture of two more terror suspects in the Hurriya district of central Baghdad, officials reported.

"The Iraqi Forces are clearly in the fight," said Army Lt. Col. Clifford Kent, a Task Force Baghdad spokesman. "They are fighting aggressively, capturing and killing many terrorists despite threats of retaliation. The extremists' efforts to intimidate Iraqis are failing."

In west Baghdad, Task Force Baghdad soldiers arrested an explosives expert believed to be responsible for attacks along a major highway in the area and captured eight more terror suspects, officials said.

Task Force Baghdad soldiers also seized two targeted suspects officials said are thought to be members of a south Baghdad terror cell involved with kidnapping local citizens. Officials said the suspects were taken into custody for questioning.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq and Task Force Baghdad news releases.)

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