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American Forces Press Service

Air Strike Targets Al Qaeda in Iraq Member in Tikrit

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 26, 2008 – A coalition air strike today targeted an al Qaeda in Iraq operative linked to local car bombings, U.S. military officials said.

When coalition forces arrived at the target location, they were attacked by enemy small-arms fire. Coalition forces returned fire and called in fixed-wing aircraft to provide air-to-ground support.

After the air strike, coalition forces continued to receive heavy fire, as armed terrorists ran from the target area and attempted to hide in nearby homes, using occupants as shields. Several civilians were injured or killed during the gun battle. The wounded were treated on site and taken to a military medical facility.

“Coalition forces make every effort to protect civilians during our operations, but al Qaeda in Iraq terrorists continue to place women and children in harm’s way while they plan and conduct their brutal attacks,” said Army Maj. Winfield Danielson, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman. “The Multinational Force Iraq sincerely regrets when civilians are wounded or killed and their families have our heartfelt condolences. We are working with local authorities to provide assistance.”

In other recent Iraq news, U.S. soldiers yesterday detained three suspects linked to mortar attacks against coalition forces. The soldiers also seized an 81 mm mortar tube with base plate and tripod, a rocket-propelled-grenade launcher, RPG warheads, an aiming device, a compass, a global positioning system, sets of military-style uniforms, AK-47 rifles and documents.

“We are relentless in our pursuit of those who would do harm to the Iraqi people and coalition forces and will bring them to justice,” said Army Col. Allen Batschelet, chief of staff for Multinational Division Baghdad. “The vast majority of Iraqis want security and stability. Coalition forces want the same, a better future for all Iraqis. The Iraqi security forces and coalition forces will yield no ground to the enemy.”

Elsewhere, U.S. soldiers acted on an Iraqi citizen’s tip and seized a buried weapons cache in Sayifiyah on March 24. The cache contained components used to make roadside bombs. The Iraqi witnessed a white Honda with a gray trunk at the cache site and reported the suspicious activity to U.S. soldiers, who then found the ordnance buried in barrels alongside a roadway. The cache contained: 16 107 mm rockets, 16 82 mm projectiles, 22 120 mm mortar rounds, one 82 mm projectile, one 55-gallon barrel containing 50 pounds of homemade explosives, 500 7.62 mm AK-47 rounds, 25 bags of propellant, three 60 mm projectiles, one 80 mm mortar, eight firing caps for 82 mm mortars, and one 500-foot roll of detonation cord. The cache also contained weapons, documents and mortar fuses. An explosives disposal team destroyed the cache.

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

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