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American Forces Press Service

Troops Kill, Capture Terrorists, Seize Weapons in 'Lightning Hammer'

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 27, 2007 – Coalition and Iraqi forces killed 26 al Qaeda members, captured 37 suspected terrorist and seized 10 weapons caches during Operation Lightning Hammer, one in a series of coordinated “quick-strike” offensives that launched this month, a top general in Iraq said today.

Multinational Division North soldiers led the 12-day operation, which targeted extremists attempting to re-establish sanctuaries in Iraq’s Diyala River Valley, Army Maj. Gen. James E. Simmons, the deputy commanding general for support for Multinational Corps Iraq, told online journalists and “bloggers” during a conference call today.

The general noted that Lightning Hammer is stimulating regional economic development, and he cited the recent opening of a flour mill in the Diyala province city of Baqubah. Diyala’s provincial government recently received 49 billion Iraqi dinar (almost $40 million) to aid stabilization, he said.

“This operation, which involved 16,000 Iraqi and coalition forces clearing approximately 50 villages, was a key element in the Multinational Corps Iraq overall Operation Phantom Strike,” he added.

Operation Phantom Strike is the umbrella group of quick-strike operations that began Aug. 15. These ongoing raids are a follow-up to Operation Phantom Thunder, a corps-level offensive launched June 15 that targeted al Qaeda, Sunni insurgents and Shiia extremists in, near and around Baghdad.

During Phantom Thunder’s 142 battalion-level joint operations, Iraqi and coalition forces detained 6,702 suspects, killed 1,196 enemies and wounded 419 others. Combined forces also killed or captured 382 high-value targets and cleared 1,113 weapons caches and scores of improvised explosive devices and car bombs.

“Our idea here is to continue to pursue the al Qaeda and Shiite extremists that we have moved out of their safe havens and support zones while conducting Operation Phantom Thunder,” Simmons said. “It is the intent of (Army Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, commander of Multinational Corps Iraq) to continue this pursuit and to continue to disrupt their capability to mount significant operations.”

Simmons said combined forces will conduct quick-strike raids against remaining extremist sanctuaries and staging areas over the coming weeks.

“(Forces) will carry out precision-targeting operations against extremist leadership and focus missions to counter the extremists' lethal use of IEDs and the (car bombs),” he said. “We will continue to hunt down their leadership, deny them safe haven, disrupt their supply line, and significantly reduce their capability to operate in Iraq.”

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