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American Forces Press Service

Coalition Forces Continue to Target al Qaeda Leaders in Iraq

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 20, 2007 – Coalition forces killed seven terrorists and detained eight suspected terrorists today during operations targeting al Qaeda leaders in the central part of Iraq.

Coalition forces targeted a senior leader of al Qaeda during an operation in Mahmudiyah in continued efforts to boost security in the southern belt around Baghdad. After several hours of monitoring a known terrorist group, ground forces returned to the area where terrorists had engaged them with small-arms fire during previous operations.

As coalition forces arrived at the target area, they identified hostile intent from the group of men they were monitoring and called for close-air support. Seven terrorists were killed, and three suspected terrorists were detained on the scene.

In Samarra, coalition forces captured three individuals believed to be closely tied to senior leaders of al Qaeda and two additional suspected terrorists.

"Terrorists cannot hide from our operations against their leadership network," said Army Maj. Winfield Danielson, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman. "Iraqi and coalition security forces will ensure al Qaeda in Iraq does not come between the Iraqi people and the future they choose for their country."

In other operations today, Iraqi special operations soldiers with U.S. Special Forces advisors detained seven suspected Shiia insurgents during an operation in the Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad.

Iraqi and U.S. forces were en route to detain a high-level Shiia extremist when they spotted several armed individuals on the rooftops of nearby buildings. The forces called in air support to provide suppressive fire, allowing the forces to continue to their objective. Once at the objective area, they searched several targeted residences and detained seven suspected Shiia extremists.

The individual targeted in the operation is a high-level Shiia extremist who commands a group of dozens of extremists. The group is responsible for attacking Iraqi and coalition forces with bombings and indirect-fire attacks. They also are linked to kidnapping, theft and murder.

Also today, coalition forces arrested an Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force officer in Sulimaniyah. The individual allegedly was involved in transporting bombs and explosively formed penetrators into Iraq. Intelligence reports also indicate he was involved in infiltrating and training foreign terrorists in Iraq, U.S. officials said.

In other operations this week:

-- Iraqi special operations soldiers killed three militant extremists during an operation targeting an extremist commander yesterday in Baghdad. During two separate incidents, armed insurgents engaged Iraqi and U.S forces, who killed all three insurgents. The Iraqi forces detained three other suspicious individuals at the targeted locations.

-- In two separate operations yesterday in Diwaniyah, Iraqi forces detained 11 other individuals. The operations targeted smuggling operations and supply routes bringing arms, ammunition, mortars and bombs into Diwaniyah. They also were targeting an extremist cell leader and assassination cell member.

Earlier this week, Multinational Division Baghdad attack helicopter crews located and destroyed a large weapons cache, containing about 500 mortar rounds, rockets and launcher equipment northwest of Baghdad on Sept. 18. At daybreak yesterday, additional crews were sent to conduct reconnaissance of the cache site and spotted multiple mortar tubes that were still potentially usable. The crews again engaged the cache completely destroy the munitions and equipment stored there.

"The very detailed reconnaissance by my Apache aircrews resulted in the discovery of this extremely large weapon cache in an isolated location west of Camp Taji," said Army Lt. Col. Christopher Walach, 1-227th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion commander. "The lethal and accurate fires by multiple Apache Longbow teams effectively reduced and destroyed a large quantity of this cache and prevented insurgents from exploiting these munitions for further use in or around Baghdad against Iraqi and coalition forces."

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

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