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American Forces Press Service

Iraq Operations Kill, Capture Scores of Terrorists

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 21, 2007 – A series of anti-insurgent operations conducted across Iraq by U.S. and Iraqi troops in recent days has resulted in the killing or capture of scores of terrorists and the seizure of copious amounts of enemy ordnance, U.S. military officials reported.

Operation Commando Eagle, a joint operation geared toward curbing terrorist activity southwest of Baghdad, began today and is producing immediate results, officials said.

Commando Eagle features a mix of helicopter-borne air assaults and Humvee-mounted movements, included soldiers from several battalions of the 10th Mountain Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team out of Fort Drum, N.Y., and the 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division. The operation targeted a series of houses that local citizens indicated were being used by al Qaeda cells to intimidate them and launch attacks against Iraqi and coalition forces, officials said.

Troops of the 10th Mountain Division’s 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, detained three men when their truck was found to contain documents requesting rockets as well as a spool of copper wire, commonly used to build improvised explosive devices. Iraqi soldiers found a cache containing four AK-47s, a 60 mm mortar tube with three rounds, an SKS rifle rigged with sniper optics, three bolt-action rifles, a camcorder with tapes, a roll of copper wire, 20 homemade grenades, four ski masks, 75 compact discs of propaganda, as well as instruction on how to commit kidnappings, shoot down coalition helicopters, and use IED-making materials.

Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division’s 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, discovered multiple series of caches during Commando Eagle. The first cache complex contained five AK-47s with three magazines, a roll of IED wire and a shotgun. A second cache included seven AK-47s. The third complex included an anti-tank mine, an anti-personnel mine, two rocket-propelled grenade rounds, an RPG launcher and multiple pounds of TNT.

Meanwhile, Task Force 2-15 detained 16 individuals. Company A, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, detained nine men and Troop B, 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment detained four, all wanted for terrorist attacks or for possessing illegal weapons.

The caches were seized and disposed of. The individuals are being held for questioning. Commando Eagle was named after the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, known as the Commandos, and the 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, called the Baghdad Eagles.

In other operations, coalition forces detained 11 suspected terrorists today and yesterday during operations targeting al Qaeda in Iraq.

Today, coalition forces raided five buildings east of Karmah, searching for an al Qaeda in Iraq emir suspected of attacks against U.S. forces and Iraqi infrastructure. The ground force captured three suspected terrorists, including an alleged subordinate of the al Qaeda emir. East of Fallujah, a raid targeting associates of al Qaeda in Iraq senior leaders netted four suspected terrorists.

Also today, north of Baghdad, American troops detained two suspected terrorists for their association with a key member of the al Qaeda in Iraq network linked to several terrorist groups and vehicle-bomb attacks.

“Each operation we conduct provides additional information about the best way for us to attack al Qaeda and strike their networks,” said Army Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman. “It’s getting more difficult for them to hide.”

Coalition troops also conducted two operations in Mosul yesterday that targeted al Qaeda in Iraq senior leaders. Two suspects were detained for alleged involvement with a Kurdish extremist in the al Qaeda network and a terrorist emir of western Mosul.

Also today, U.S troops continue to press al Qaeda operatives as part of Operation Arrowhead Ripper, being conducted in and around Baqubah in Diyala province, officials reported.

Since Operation Arrowhead Ripper began June 19, at least 41 insurgents have been killed, five weapons caches have been discovered, 25 improvised explosive devices have been destroyed and five booby-trapped houses have been discovered and destroyed.

“Our combined forces have begun destroying al Qaeda operatives and their resources in and around Diyala province,” said Army Brig. Gen. Mick Bednarek, deputy commanding general for operations, Task Force Lightning and Multinational Division North. “The citizens of Diyala have already voiced their desires to rid this province and the country of al Qaeda and all those that wish to disrupt its progress.”

Today, groups of Baqubah citizens stepped forward to provide valuable information on al Qaeda in the city. During overnight operations, Task Force Lightning engaged and killed at least 11 al Qaeda operatives while destroying three enemy safe houses with precision-guided munitions, and destroting a cache of 60 mm improvised explosive devices and six buried IEDs.

Ground forces also found a house booby-trapped with improvised explosive devices in the Khatoon neighborhood near Baqubah. The building was destroyed with a rocket from an air support helicopter. In another incident, soldiers from 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, observed four armed individuals digging on the side of the road and emplacing IEDs. Coalition-force air support engaged and killed all four terrorists.

“Our joint efforts, along with the citizens of Diyala, will continue to back these al Qaeda terrorists into a corner until they have no choice but end their attempts,” said Bednarek. Some al Qaeda operatives have been captured or killed attempting to escape the city, as evidenced by six uninjured adult males caught attempting to evade a checkpoint in an Iraqi ambulance June 19.

Providing key support throughout the operation were helicopters from the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade. Aircraft from 3rd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, have worked throughout the mission to move soldiers and equipment throughout Baqouba and the surrounding area. Providing air fire support were attack helicopters from the 1st Squadron, 82nd Air Reconnaissance Battalion.

Also today, Task Force Marne began its sixth day of offensive operations to clear extremist sanctuaries in the Arab Jabour area southeast of Baghdad. To date, Marne Torch and Iraqi Army units have detained more than five dozen suspected extremists and destroyed more than 17 boats on the Tigris River that are responsible for transporting accelerants into Baghdad.

Ground and air forces disrupted insurgent operations by capturing, seizing, and clearing caches that support instability in the area. American forces killed five insurgents, discovered and destroyed 12 improvised explosive devices, and detained 13 wanted individuals.

More than 2,500 U.S. and Iraqi military forces are participating in Marne Torch, an operation named for the historic British-American invasion of French North Africa in World War II that took place in 1942. Members of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, continue to clear the area north of the Arab Jabour area and restrict movement of insurgents and bomb-making material into the area.

On June 19, a sizable enemy weapons cache was found in the Jisr Diyala area. The cache yielded 54 mortar rounds, two artillery rounds, 29 cell phones, 29 nine-volt battery connectors and more than 20 circuit boards - all commonly used in the manufacturing of improvised explosive devices. A total of 17 caches found throughout the Arab Jabour and Salman Pak area.

Soldiers from 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, and the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, continue to clear houses and set-up checkpoints around Arab Jabour to stop the flow of accelerants in and out of Baghdad. There have been 237 houses cleared since the start of Marne Torch.

In other Iraq news, U.S. soldiers with the 2nd Infantry Division’s 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, and the 1st Iraqi Army Division’s 4th Brigade, recovered a weapons cache in eastern Baghdad yesterday. Responding to a tip, members of the U.S. 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery, and Iraqi soldiers found five 107 mm rockets, three fuses and 23 rocket stands. Some of the rockets had been prepped for launch. The rockets were destroyed in place by an explosive ordnance disposal team.

“The find highlights the joint effort between U.S. and Iraqi forces to root out insurgents and clamp down on sectarian violence,” said Army Maj. Sean Ryan, a spokesman for the brigade.

In another Baghdad operation conducted yesterday U.S. soldiers from Company B, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, positively identified two individuals placing an initiator at the end of a command wire on an IED. The U.S. soldiers opened fire, killing one insurgent and wounding another.

Later in the day, U.S. soldiers with Company C, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment discovered a 100-pound bag of homemade explosives with wires, and improvised rocket launchers.

Also yesterday, Iraqi special operations forces detained a key insurgent leader during an operation conducted in Baghdad’s Sadr City sector. The detainee is allegedly responsible for coordinating and conducting kidnappings, death squad killings and improvised explosive device attacks against innocent civilians and Iraqi and coalition forces. The Iraqi forces also detained two other suspicious individuals.

In other Iraq news, coalition forces were engaging a booby-trapped house yesterday in the Khatoon area of Diyala province, when another structure was accidentally hit by an air-dropped bomb.

Soldiers from 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division were patrolling the Khatoon area when they discovered the bomb-rigged house. The soldiers cleared the area and attempted to destroy the house with a bomb. The bomb missed its intended target and struck another structure, away from the targeted house. Upon notification, the Joint Communications Center in Diyala, Iraq, immediately dispatched emergency medical services to the site of the accident. Reports indicate that 11 civilians were injured.

The originally targeted house was later engaged with a Hellfire missile, producing a large secondary explosion confirming the house as containing a large amount of explosives. The incident is under investigation.

In other Iraq news, five Iraqis were killed and six injured June 19 when a 122 mm rocket struck a building in the Al Mansour district of Baghdad. Both Iraqi and U.S. military forces responded to the scene of the attack. U.S. officials confirmed that the rocket was fired from north of the city, about 10 miles away. The 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment, was the first American unit to arrive at the attack site.

Meanwhile, Iraqi forces broke up a suspected terrorist sniper cell in the Bayji area of northern Iraq on June 19. The Iraqi troops detained five individuals for further questioning. The Iraqis confiscated a sniper rifle, three AK-47 assault rifles, a 9mm pistol, associated ammunition as well as bomb-making materials.

Also, U.S. soldiers treated a sick Iraqi child in southern Baghdad June 19. Faisal, a 2-year-old boy living in Baghdad’s Rashid district, was unresponsive with labored breathing when his mother brought him to a temporary checkpoint manned by soldiers from Company C, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment "Tomahawks."

Faisal was taken to Forward Operating Base Falcon, where members of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division medical staff were able to treat and stabilize him for further treatment at the U.S. military Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad’s International Zone.

“He was a pretty sick kid,” said Army medic Sgt. Tracey Lyons, who helped treat Faisal, who is expected to recover.

Army Capt. Wesley Theurer, a military physician, praised military care providers for reacting so quickly.

“The team did a real good job,” Theurer said. “Everyone was concerned. To see someone so young in that kind of condition was something that pulled us all together.”

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq and Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)

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