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American Forces Press Service

Phantom Thunder, Related Operations Continue in Iraq

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 1, 2007 – Operation Phantom Thunder and other offensive military operations in Iraq continue to turn up terrorist leaders, enemy fighters and weapons intended for use against Iraqi and coalition forces and Iraqi citizens, military officials reported.

Today, coalition forces in Iraq’s Ninewah and Anbar provinces detained 14 suspected terrorists during operations aimed at capturing or killing al Qaeda in Iraq senior leaders and their operatives.

In Mosul, coalition forces captured an alleged al Qaeda in Iraq senior leader and three other suspected terrorists during an early morning raid. Coalition officials said the senior leader is responsible for directing rocket attacks in Ninewah province.

In Anbar, coalition forces raided two buildings in Karmah looking for a suspected al Qaeda in Iraq leader. Forces detained two men who had a stash of grenades and found two weapons caches filled with explosive chemicals and bomb-making materials. An explosives team safely destroyed the cache on site, and ground forces detained three more suspected terrorists there.

Two more operations in Anbar province netted five suspected terrorists. Forces searched three buildings west of Tarmiyah looking for an al Qaeda in Iraq cell leader and detained two individuals for their alleged involvement with the cell. Coalition troops also raided two buildings west of Abu Ghraib, targeting a terrorist believed to be involved in car-bomb attacks against coalition forces, and detained three suspected terrorists.

Also today, coalition forces detained three suspected secret cell terrorists before dawn in North Adamiya, near Baghdad’s Sadr City neighborhood. Officials said the suspects have close ties to Iranian terror networks and are believed to be responsible for numerous attacks on Iraqi civilians as well as Iraqi and coalition forces in Baghdad. They also are suspected of recruiting Iraqis to fill the ranks of Iranian terror groups operating in Iraq. No shots were fired when coalition forces conducted the precision raid.

U.S. soldiers captured the six men during operations in East Baghdad yesterday. The soldiers conducted the operation based on tips received from residents in the Kamaliyah neighborhood. The suspects are being held for questioning.

On June 29, Apache helicopters engaged insurgents who had fired on ground forces in southern Baghdad, killing one and wounding another.

“Our increased aerial presence over the numerous mahallas (neighborhoods) that are being cleared in Operation Fardh al Qanoon has led to desperate acts by (the enemy),” said Army Capt. Ryan Sullivan, an Apache pilot who commanded the lead aircraft during the mission. “We were able to locate the insurgents and engage (them) at a known (enemy) gathering place. This engagement contributed to the safety of the ground troops as they continue to clear the mahallas.”

Also on June 29, Iraqi soldiers detained five suspected al Qaeda in Iraq cell members in southern Baghdad. The suspected terrorists allegedly are responsible for several attacks on coalition forces. In particular, this terrorist cell and its members are accused of coordinating a complex attack on coalition forces, planting roadside bombs and organizing sniper attacks on coalition patrols. The Iraq soldiers seized computers, cell phones and weapons used in the terrorist cell operation. This operation will disrupt a major terrorist cell in Doura, officials said.

In other news from Iraq, coalition officials yesterday identified a man killed in a June 29 attack as a senior al Qaeda in Iraq foreign terrorist. Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Masri, an Egyptian, was killed east of Fallujah. Intelligence reports indicate he worked directly for Abu Ayyub al-Masri, the military emir of al Qaeda in Iraq, and is associated with other al Qaeda in Iraq senior leaders.

Intelligence reports further indicate he was assessed to be responsible for participating in terrorist courts and issuing terrorism-related religious decrees. He fought with Abu Ayyub al-Masri in Afghanistan in 2002 and 2003, and later came to Iraq with him.

Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Masri also fought in both battles of Fallujah, and was injured in one. He was detained for six months, and upon his release, moved to Syria, where he began working with the network that facilitates the movement of foreign fighters into Iraq. He returned to Iraq late last year, officials said.

He was positively identified by several known associates and other detainees from this and previous operations, officials added.

In other news, Defense Department officials have changed the status of two soldiers missing since May 12 to “Missing-Captured.” They had been listed as “Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown.”

Army Pvt. Byron W. Fouty, 19, of Waterford, Mich., and Army Spc. Alex R. Jimenez, 25, of Lawrence, Mass., went missing after enemy forces attacked their patrol. Fouty and Jimenez are assigned to the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y. The body of a third soldier who went missing after the attack -- Army Pfc. Joseph J. Anzack Jr., 20, of Torrance, Calif. -- was found May 23.

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

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