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American Forces Press Service

Coalition Troops in Iraq Detain 11 Suspected Terrorists

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 11, 2008 – Coalition forces in Iraq detained 11 suspected terrorists today during operations to disrupt al Qaeda networks in central and northern Iraq, military officials said.

-- In Mosul, coalition forces detained four suspects during two operations targeting foreign terrorists associated with al Qaeda in Iraq networks in the western and southeastern regions of the city.

-- In Beiji, coalition forces detained two suspects while targeting an alleged associate of a senior-level foreign-terrorist facilitator and al Qaeda senior leaders operating inside and outside of Iraq.

-- During operations west of Samarra and near Tikrit, coalition forces detained three suspected terrorists while targeting alleged associates of an al Qaeda leader involved in propaganda operations in Anbar province.

-- Another two suspects were detained during an operation in Abu Ghraib targeting an alleged associate of the senior leader for the southern-belt network of al Qaeda in Iraq.

“We will not allow al Qaeda to interfere with the progress the Iraqi people and their elected government are making,” said Navy Capt. Vic Beck, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman. “With the help of Iraqi citizens who reject al Qaeda’s targeting of innocent civilians and corrupt Taliban-like ideology, Iraqi and coalition forces will continue to find the terrorists, dismantle their networks and improve safety and security for the Iraqi people.”

In other news, Iraqi army and coalition forces killed two insurgents during a March 7-8 cordon-and-search operation in Lej, officials reported. The operation also resulted in discovery of four improvised explosive devices and one weapons cache. Two buildings used for storing enemy ammunition and explosives were destroyed.

“The importance of the mission was to push out any al Qaeda insurgents who were entrenched in al Lej,” said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Jay Carey. “The mission was also to clear all weapons caches. This will allow the local populace to move back to the area and have a normal, stable life.”

Coalition soldiers have not had any presence in Lej for about five years, said U.S. Army Capt. Jimmy Hathaway, commander of Task Force Petro. Hathaway works closely with Georgian army Maj. David Sulkhanishvili, the commander of a detachment of Georgian soldiers who also work in the area.

Hathaway said the mission set the stage for the arrival of 1st Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army, which is slated to operate in the area.

When U.S., Georgian and Iraqi soldiers entered the villages, they found the majority of houses abandoned, Hathaway said. The Georgian troops and members of a local concerned citizens group set up 12 checkpoints throughout the area. Other soldiers secured a local water-pumping station.

“It was great to see the Georgian soldiers securing the objective and immediately being able to transition to helping the locals,” Hathaway said.

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

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