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American Forces Press Service

Coalition Troops in Iraq Capture Special Groups Leader

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2008 – U.S. soldiers captured a man suspected of leading an Iranian-backed Special Groups cell in southern Baghdad’s Rashid District yesterday, military officials reported.

The detainee is linked to several area attacks, officials said. He was caught during military operations conducted in the Abu T’shir neighborhood.

“The operation has been going extremely well,” said Army Maj. Dave Olson, a 1st Brigade Combat Team spokesman. The soldiers are creating a safe and secure environment for the district's 1.2 million residents, he said.

“We will target and bring to justice those criminals who disregard the rule of law and who obviously have no regard for the welfare of innocent Iraqi citizens,” Olson declared.

In other news, a tipster led U.S. and Iraqi soldiers to a weapons cache in Shubayshen Village, south of Baghdad, April 16.

The soldiers spent several hours digging up the munitions, which consisted of about 600 tank rounds.

This find was part of Operation Marne Piledriver, an ongoing effort in which Iraqi forces are taking the lead in removing insurgents with the help of coalition forces.

In separate news, the Iraqi city of Kirkuk transferred the last of its traffic control points from military control to police jurisdiction during a ceremony held just north of the city April 14.

The transfer featured numerous Iraqi government, police and military officials.

“Today's handover demonstrates that Kirkuk is operating under the rule of law, not martial law, and that is what we are marking here today,” said Army Lt. Col. Kevin Brown, commander of the 10th Mountain Division’s 1st Brigade.

Kirkuk’s citizens should realize “that their police are fully capable of providing them safety and security,” Brown said.

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

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