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American Forces Press Service

Coalition Forces Target al Qaeda Leaders Around Baghdad

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 7, 2007 – Coalition forces killed eight terrorists and detained 14 suspected terrorists during coordinated operations targeting a senior al Qaeda leader west of Tarmiyah over the past two days.

Forces conducted an operation yesterday targeting the al Qaeda emir of the northern belts around Baghdad, who is associated with deadly car bomb attacks in the city.

Surveillance indicated the senior leader and his associates had entered a building in a remote area. Coalition forces declared the target hostile and called in an air strike. Secondary explosions ignited after the initial strike, indicating there were explosives inside. Forces assess five terrorists were killed in the strike.

When ground forces approached the site to assess damage, a terrorist engaged them with small-arms fire. Countering in self-defense, forces returned fire and killed the armed man. The ground forces resumed their approach to the building but discovered multiple fighting positions, heavy machine guns, booby traps and vehicles wired with explosives. Coalition forces evacuated the area and called in air assets to destroy the enemy weapons.

Acting on intelligence gained from yesterday’s operation, coalition forces conducted additional coordinated raids in the area this morning. During the first of those, forces used explosives to breach a door and enter a targeted building. A woman standing behind the door was killed in the explosion. Iraqis on the scene told coalition forces her husband had told her to block the door from the Americans.

As ground forces secured the building, one man was discovered concealing himself in another room, armed with grenades and a rifle aimed at the assault force. Coalition forces engaged the armed man and killed him. As they secured additional buildings on the scene, a man rushed to a window and attempted to pull a rifle from behind the curtains. Forces reacted to the hostile threat by engaging the man and killing him.

During a raid on another building, ground forces brought the occupants of a building outside to secure the area. One man, after previously being compliant, turned and rushed back into the building. Coalition forces, perceiving a hostile threat, engaged the man and wounded him. He was treated on site and taken to a military medical facility for further treatment. He and six other suspected terrorists were detained during the raid.

Coalition forces detained three more suspected terrorists during raids on four more buildings in the area.

"Taking down the bombing network in Baghdad is a top priority for us," said Army Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, Multinational Force Iraq spokesman. "We will continue targeting the leaders who coordinate and execute murderous attacks on the Iraqi people."

In other operations today:

-- Coalition forces targeted and captured an individual north of Tikrit believed to be involved in terrorist activities in Salah ad Din province. Intelligence reports indicate the suspect is tied to al Qaeda and controls sensitive operational documents and media for the terrorist group. The ground forces detained two additional suspected terrorists during the raid.

-- In Mosul, coalition forces captured a high-level member of a terrorist group whose leader was detained during a coalition operation. The group is linked with al Qaeda and is known for placing improvised explosive devices.

-- Coalition forces raided six buildings in Bayji targeting an al Qaeda leader there who allegedly oversees hundreds of terrorist fighters. On scene, the ground forces found a suitcase filled with Iraqi currency and detained seven suspected terrorists for their alleged ties to the targeted individual.

-- In Baghdad, forces targeted a cell leader in the city's car bomb network who is also believed to be involved in an April police station bombing. During the raid, the ground forces detained four suspected terrorists. "We're making it clear with our operations: no terrorist is safe," said Garver. "We are targeting all those who are trying to derail Iraq's progress."

In operations over the past few days:

-- Soldiers from the 3rd Iraqi Army Division stopped a tanker truck loaded with 5,000 pounds of explosives yesterday following a shootout with unknown enemy forces in the Sinjar area near the Syrian border. The Iraqi soldiers were conducting a cordon-and-search operation in the village of Azaem when they were engaged by 12 enemy fighters with small-arms fire. The soldiers returned fire, killing three and capturing the remaining nine. In addition to the explosives, they also discovered a machine gun and nearly 2,000 rounds of AK-47 and 9 mm ammunition.

-- Iraqi security forces, with U.S. Special Forces acting as advisers, detained an extremist group battalion commander Aug. 5 in Baghdad. The suspected Shia extremist is believed to command five companies of terrorists who conduct bomb and mortar attacks against Iraqi forces in the area. The suspect also allegedly participated in the murder of several local nationals.

-- Iraqi special operations forces, with U.S. Special Forces acting as advisors, detained a suspected al Qaeda emir in Radwaniyah Aug. 5. The alleged Sunni extremist commander is believed responsible for conducting attacks against coalition forces and Iraqi security forces southwest of Baghdad. Another suspected extremist also was detained.

-- Paratroopers the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, captured a suspected rogue militia company commander wanted for a string of attacks using explosively formed projectiles, murder and intimidation against citizens in North Babil during Operation Marne Avalanche Aug. 5. They also detained five suspected members of his ring.

-- Iraqi army forces and U.S. Special Forces detained five suspected insurgents believed to be part of a Thar Thar region al Qaeda cell during a helicopter assault raid Aug. 4. Iraqi soldiers detained the five persons of interest without incident at a residence located in a rural area west of Balad. Seven assault rifles, a shotgun, assorted ammunition magazines, compact discs and propaganda materials also were seized during the operation. The detainees are believed to be members of an al Qaeda cell allegedly responsible for hijacking semi trailers, planting improvised explosive devices on coalition forces supply routes and aiding foreign fighters.

-- Elements of the 8th Iraqi Army Division, with U.S. Special Forces as advisors, detained a suspected insurgent recruiter and organizer for an extremist militia operating in Najaf during an intelligence-driven operation in southern Iraq Aug. 4. The alleged insurgent is suspected of using local charities as a front to screen and recruit individuals by offering them $500 to emplace improvised explosive devices. He also is suspected of facilitating cross-border training, garnering financial support, and transporting equipment and weapons with Persian militant groups to be used against Iraqi and coalition forces. He is suspected of supplying the IED that killed two coalition soldiers in Karbala and is linked to other deadly attacks in Diwaniyah, Najaf and Karbala.

-- Iraqi soldiers joined U.S. troops from Task Force Steel in a joint operation dubbed Algeria III in support of Operation Marne Avalanche Aug. 4 in North Babil, to secure the area from insurgent activity. Soldiers from the 8th Iraqi Army Division and the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Division moved from house to house searching for any presence of insurgent activity or violations of the rule of law set forth by the Iraqi government. "This operation was one of the biggest operations our company has done with Iraqi security forces," said Army Capt. Jim Browning, a company commander within the 3rd Infantry Division. "Everything on this mission was totally led by the Iraqi army. We were just there for support." The Iraqi-led operation yielded a pair of night-vision goggles, three detainees and five AK-47 assault rifles with ammunition. "The operation was a complete success," Browning said. "The Iraqi army soldiers have made vast improvements since we last conducted an operation with them, and I am confident that they will only continue to get better."

-- Iraqi Army and coalition forces in Diyala province targeted al Qaeda operatives and other terrorist forces during an operation beginning Aug. 4, in a continued effort to deny the enemy the use of any perceived safe havens in the Diyala River Valley. During the operation, two booby-trapped houses were discovered and destroyed. In addition, two weapons caches, four improvised explosive devices and one al Qaeda vehicle were discovered and destroyed.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq, Multinational Corps Iraq and Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Arabian Peninsula news releases.)

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