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American Forces Press Service

Iraqi, Coalition Forces Catch Suspects With Munitions

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 17, 2005 Iraqi and coalition forces working a joint operation detained three suspected insurgents with a number of munitions Nov. 16, military officials reported.

The men had a 60 mm mortar tube, two 81 mm mortar rounds, a 115 mm round and a fire extinguisher packed with explosives. The men are being detained pending further questioning.

Elsewhere in Iraq, Iraqi soldiers detained two men Nov. 16 during a search for suspects in a roadside bomb attack that knocked over a power line tower about 10 kilometers south of Samarra.

Soldiers with the 3rd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army Division, reported seeing a suspicious vehicle fleeing the scene of the blast, but lost contact with it. A patrol conducting a search of nearby homes detained two men for more questioning.

A cordon-and-search mission in Dawr to deny a safe haven for terrorists in the area resulted in the detention of 20 suspected terrorists and the confiscation of weapons and materials used in the production of improvised explosive devices.

Operation Kennesaw Dragon, a joint Iraqi and U.S. mission, began Nov. 14, as troops from the 1st Battalion, 1st Brigade, 4th Iraqi Army Division, set up a cordon around Dawr. Soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team, supported by the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, conducted an air assault into landing zones outside the town and moved in for the search.

Task Force 1-15 and Iraqi soldiers went door to door looking for weapons and known terrorists, as well as explaining to the residents that the search was related to recent attacks by terrorists. More than 30 attacks against coalition forces have been reported in the area during the past two months, officials said.

Many residents willingly turned over weapons to help facilitate the search. An overnight curfew in the city was met with little resistance. Shops and businesses voluntarily closed, which officials said helped accelerate the operation. By Nov. 15, the mission was completed and the units returned to Forward Operating Base Wilson. In another operation, Iraqi and U.S. forces detained dozens of terror suspects during searches in south Baghdad to clear neighborhoods of terrorist activity.

"Operation Clean Sweep was intended to clean out an area that was known to be used as a way for terrorists to come towards Baghdad from the south, as well as an area that a lot of vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices and IEDs were coming from," said Lt. Col. Everett Knapp, commander of 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry Regiment.

In anticipation of the Dec. 15 nationwide elections, the battalion's soldiers, as well as Iraqi forces from the 4th Public Order Brigade and 1st Commando Brigade, raided about 350 homes and detained 49 suspected terrorists. Military officials said 10 of the suspects were forwarded to detention facilities.

Some of the unit's soldiers set up the outer cordon of the mission, while others shadowed their Iraqi counterparts during the operation.

"The Iraqi soldiers really took the lead (on this mission)," Knapp said. "They don't need translators; they can tell who the good guys are and who doesn't belong in a certain situation."

During the Oct. 15 constitutional referendum vote, clearing the area of possible dangers to the democratic process was one reason U.S. soldiers swept through the fields, clearing every building that stood in their path.

Knapp said he looks forward to more work with Iraqi security forces. "These guys get better every single day," he said. "Their professionalism is outstanding." Alert neighborhood watch members in eastern Baghdad stopped a potential car bomb attack Nov. 15. Shortly before 6 p.m., local residents noticed a suspicious vehicle getting fuel from a roadside gasoline dealer.

When neighborhood watch members approached the driver, he pulled a pistol and pointed it at them and then attempted to flee. The citizens tried to stop the suspect but were unsuccessful, said area neighborhood watch leader Oday Fakhan. The would-be car bomber tried and failed to hijack a getaway vehicle at gunpoint. But a taxi driver allowed the suspect to enter and took him to a neighborhood in Baladiat, an eastern Baghdad suburb. Meanwhile, Iraqi police were called to the scene and secured the area around the suspicious vehicle.

Iraqi police later interviewed the taxi driver and got a description of the suspect. A search is ongoing.

An Iraqi police explosive ordnance disposal team found the vehicle was wired with five 155 mm artillery rounds and other explosives embedded in the trunk and doors. The car and deactivated explosives were moved to the Rusafa police station for further investigation.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq, Task Force Baghdad and Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq news releases. Army Maj. Russ Goemaere and Army Spc. Dan Balda contributed to this report.)

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