By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service
Jan. 23, 2007 – U.S. and Iraqi forces killed 100 terrorists, detained 50, and dismantled a large terrorist group in January during Operation Turki Bowl, the senior U.S. Army officer in Iraq's Diyala province said yesterday. The operation, conducted from Jan. 4 to 13, occurred south of Balad Ruz in the Turki Village, Tuwilla and 30 Tamuz areas of the province. During the operation, U.S. Army and Iraqi soldiers isolated and defeated a terrorist group known as "The Council," Col. David W. Sutherland, commander of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, told reporters via satellite connection from a news conference in Iraq.
"The group, made up of former Baath Regime members, al Qaeda and Sunni extremists, refused to participate in any political dialogue and preferred attacking innocent civilians in the Diyala province," Sutherland said.
The council killed as many as 39 civilians in one kidnapping and mass murder in November, he added.
"The fear of the people and the weapons used by these individuals are used to attack the core of Iraqi values and beliefs," Sutherland said. "They are interested in preventing individual human rights and freedoms that the people of this region want so much."
Leading up to the large-scale operation, coalition forces discovered a large weapons cache in November in the area, resulting in "major combat operations with several large organizations" of terrorists, Sutherland said.
"Upon defeating them, we intentionally moved back to our base of operations so that we could exploit the intelligence that we would ... gather over the next several months," he said.
While developing plans for Operation Turki Bowl, U.S. military leaders, with the 5th Iraqi Army Division, studied the enemy's early warning systems, their actions, and "how they reacted to our initial contact with them," Sutherland said.
Coalition forces conducted smaller-scale raids in the area prior to Operation Turki Bowl, to give civilians a perceived safe-haven and encourage their cooperation with troops, he said. Through tips and phone calls to coalition forces, civilians provided invaluable information about the enemy, Sutherland added.
"What we wanted to do was isolate (terrorists) from the population so they could not blend in," Sutherland said. "It (was) a counterinsurgency operation, but the difference is we were able separate the terrorists from the people they were living off of.
"Since I've been here, we have not conducted an operation where we have been able to bring to bear against a group of this size that was willing to fight us out in the open," Sutherland said.
In addition to defeating the council, troops found 25 weapons caches containing more than 1,150 Katusha rockets and 1,000 rocket-propelled grenades, 170 anti-tank missiles, anti-tank mines, small- and heavy-arms ammunition and sensitive terrorist documents.
Soldiers are now focused on interacting with the local populous and reinforcing the security and stability of the region, according to a Multinational Force Iraq news release. The Iraqi army will maintain a permanent presence, while coalition forces are focusing on reconstructing roads, essential services and other basic services to help the people of Turki, the release stated.
"This operation clearly was a significant tactical success for (coalition forces), (Iraq army), and most importantly, the citizens of Turki and surrounding areas," Sutherland said. "The long-term affects we hope to achieve are stability for economic growth, increased political action for all parties and self-reliance for the Iraqi government and security forces."
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