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Operation Northern Lights

March, 22 2006

On March 22, 2006, Iraqi Army and Coalition Forces, approximately 1,400 personnel, kicked off Operation Northern Lights to disrupt anti-Iraqi forces and to find and destroy weapons caches in the Abu Ghraib area west of Baghdad.

The joint and combined operation began with 3rd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, and 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, moving to blocking positions by ground before Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, air assaulted onto the objective to conduct a cordon and search.

By late afternoon, approximately 400 Soldiers from the 3rd Bde., 6th Iraqi Army Div., reportedly discovered five weapons caches, containing a machinegun, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, three AK-47 assault rifles, 2,200 PKC machine gun rounds, two boxes of gunpowder, a RPG rocket, an Iraqi police jacket, 18 106 mm tank rounds, 400 blasting caps, 40 artillery rounds, 17 pressure plate initiators, 20 Motorola radio initiators, and thousands of .50 caliber machine gun rounds. They also detained a suspected terrorist near one of the caches.

According to U.S. reports, at another cache site, insurgents attacked Iraqi soldiers with small-arms fire, wounding one Iraqi policeman and an Iraqi child caught in the crossfire. Iraqi soldiers returned fire, wounding and capturing a suspected terrorist. All of the wounded were treated by Coalition Forces personnel.

Another cache found was said to have consisted of seven RPG launchers, 12 RPG rounds, 14 82 mm mortar rounds, two 120 mm mortar rounds, ten 155 mm rounds, a mortar bipod and 2,000 small-arms rounds, some of which were armor-piercing rounds. A suspected terrorist was detained at the site.

Iraqi and Coalition Forces detained at least two persons of high-value interest and 16 suspected terrorists.

The operation was based on intelligence, including tips from local Iraqis, that insurgents were operating in the area and stockpiling roadside bomb and truck bomb- making materials to prepare for attacks in Baghdad.