American Forces Press Service
June 20, 2007 – Coalition and Iraqi forces continued security operations throughout Iraq the past few days, killing about 37 extremists, capturing more than 100, and discovering numerous weapons caches, military officials reported. Four insurgents have been killed and 62 detained at the start of Operation Marne Torch's fourth day today in southeastern Baghdad.
Ten caches have been seized, 17 boats destroyed, and five improvised explosive devices have been found.
The operation's purpose is to clear insurgents from safe havens. Phase 1 of Marne Torch began in mid-May and focused on intelligence gathering and shaping the conditions for offensive operations.
Marne Torch is named for the historic 1942 British-American invasion of French North Africa in World War II. Soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division fought alongside British comrades, and gave the Allies substantial beachheads in North Africa.
Task Force Lightning continued its offensive operation in and around the capital of Diyala province today as part of a powerful crackdown on al Qaeda terrorists operating in the area.
U.S. and Iraqi combined forces engaged and killed at least 30 al Qaeda operatives, and discovered four IEDs emplaced in houses and 10 buried IEDs during the first full day of Operation Arrowhead Ripper.
"These criminals will know no safe place to hide in Diyala," said Brig. Gen. Mick Bednarek, deputy commanding general for operations, Task Force Lightning and Multinational Division North. "The people of Diyala are tired of the terror and violence these al Qaeda thugs have brought to their province and are cooperating with us in order to root them out."
As the soldiers moved through Baqubah and the surrounding areas, they discovered at least two weapons caches containing assault weapons, grenades, rocket launchers, large- and small-caliber ammunition and explosives. Ground forces also coordinated a precision guided munitions strike to destroy a known al Qaeda weapons cache located inside a safe house, and reported a large secondary explosion due to the munitions the terrorists stored inside.
In another incident, soldiers from Alpha Troop, 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, observed and engaged armed individuals emplacing an IED near Zaganiyah village, along the Diyala River valley.
The gunmen returned fire, but the soldiers, using direct and indirect fire, killed both of the armed IED emplacers.
About 10,000 soldiers throughout Diyala province are participating in and supporting Operation Arrowhead Ripper, which was launched by Task Force Lightning to eliminate al Qaeda in Iraq terrorists. Included in this operation are more than 1,000 Iraqi army soldiers and a comparable number of Iraqi police.
In other operations, Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers discovered and destroyed an explosively-formed penetrator factory and suspected torture house in southern Baghdad yesterday. EFPs are an advanced form of IED capable of penetrating armor.
While searching abandoned buildings in the western Rashid district, soldiers of Company A, 1st Battalion 38th Infantry Regiment, found six EFPs, 24 sticks of C4 plastic explosive, a pipe bomb and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.
A house nearby was also searched, and soldiers found an 105 mm artillery round with a satchel charge attached and duct tape coated with blood and hair. After inspecting the houses, soldiers found materials believed to aid in camouflaging roadside bombs.
An explosive ordnance disposal unit arrived on the scene and detonated the cache. However, the resulting explosion was larger than expected and collapsed a nearby home. Soldiers searched the rubble for any possible trapped civilians. One female civilian was found dead.
"Our deepest sympathies are with the family of the deceased," said Army Maj. Kirk Luedeke, spokesperson and public affairs officer for the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. "This unfortunate event is something we are investigating and will take precautionary measures to prevent from happening again."
Earlier in the day, coalition aircraft dropped six bombs on the palm grove along the Tigris River in the eastern portion of the Rashid district, targeting an infiltration route and possible cache storage site for al Qaeda operating in an area that has been used to conduct indirect fire attacks against the International Zone and coalition outposts.
In other developments, a suicide truck bomb detonated in Baghdad's Rusafa district yesterday, killing 35 Iraqis and wounding 65 others.
The device detonated at about 2:15 p.m. near the Al Husan Bin Ali Mosque in Rusafa's Jumhuriyah neighborhood. Reports indicate the truck was filled with propane tanks, and that the driver attempted to jump the curb near the mosque median and subsequently got stuck.
The driver then detonated the truck's explosive payload. The blast caused damage to the southeastern outer wall of the mosque.
Coalition forces were in the area and responded immediately following the blast. The more seriously wounded were transported to a local hospital for treatment; the less seriously wounded were treated by U.S. and Iraqi security forces at the scene. Iraqi firefighters arrived to battle the fire, which erupted from the blast site and had spread through the street.
Soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 504th Parachutist Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, along with the 118th Military Police Company and Iraqi security forces, responded to the blasts and sealed off the areas.
Coalition forces confirmed casualty figures with officials at the local hospital. The attack is under investigation.
Elsewhere, Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers captured a suspected member of an alleged bomb-making cell in Sab al Bor, Iraq, yesterday.
Soldiers from Battery C, 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery, attached to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, captured the suspect using information from intelligence sources. In all, the unit detained 14 suspects for questioning during the operation.
The raid was part of a large-scale, sector-wide initiative to eliminate threats to coalition and Iraqi security forces, and to curb violence in the area north of the Iraqi capital.
In an attempt to rescue severely injured Iraqi police forces, Iraqi security forces battled extremists, killing more than three and detaining 45 in Nasiriyah June 18 and yesterday.
With coalition forces present as advisors, Iraqi security forces rushed to a neighborhood in Nasiriyah to recover wounded personnel from an earlier firefight.
As they arrived to the police checkpoint, Iraqi and coalition forces received enemy fire from multiple directions. With well-aimed fire, Iraqi forces killed more than three insurgents, one of whom is a suspected highly ranked rogue militia commander.
Throughout the operation, extremists fired on Iraqi and coalition forces from a rooftop across the street. Coalition forces called for an air strike and suppressed the extremists. No local Iraqi civilians were injured during the air strike.
During the operation, Iraqi security forces received hostile fire and suffered 30 casualties.
In other developments, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted a cordon-and-search operation in the Adhamiyah district June 18, resulting in the capture of three suspects caught with materials used in the manufacture of car bombs. A fourth suspect was also detained during the operation. "Operation Castine" was conducted by soldiers from the U.S. Army's 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, and soldiers from the 1st Brigade, 11th Iraqi Army Division.
The operation began before sunrise, when U.S. and Iraqi forces made a tactical foot movement from Coalition Outpost Apache into the Safina neighborhood of Adhamiyah. For the next five hours, soldiers moved up and down the narrow city streets, searching hundreds of homes looking for illegal weapons and other contraband.
In other news, Iraqi national police repelled an attack on their outpost by unknown gunmen in Samarra June 18.
More than 2,000 Iraqi soldiers and policemen moved into Samarra to provide additional security for its citizens following the recent attack on the Askira Mosque June 13.
Iraqi police were occupying and conducting patrols about two miles from the Askira Mosque when gunmen attacked with small-arms fire and a suicide car bomb. The police defended their outpost, returning fire from a nearby checkpoint and repelling the attack with minimal casualties.
"This demonstrates total lack of respect for the Askira Mosque in light of its recent attack," said Col. Bryan Owens, commander, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. "The policemen injured were dedicated to protecting the mosque from any future attacks."
The car bomb damaged the outside of a school and other buildings in the immediate area. There was no damage to the Askira Mosque.
Two Iraqi policemen injured in the attack were transported to a coalition forces' medical facility for treatment.
(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq and Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)