American Forces Press Service
June 19, 2007 – The beginning of a new offensive targeting al Qaeda in the Iraqi city of Baqubah highlights recent operations reported by military officials in Iraq. Troops began Operation Arrowhead Ripper in Baqubah today, killing 22 insurgents in a large-scale effort to eliminate al Qaeda members. The 2nd Infantry Division's 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team launched the offensive with a quick-strike night air assault early this morning. By daylight, attack helicopters and ground forces had engaged and killed the enemy fighters in and around Baqubah.
"The end state is to destroy the al Qaeda influences in this province and eliminate their threat against the people," said Army Brig. Gen. Mick Bednarek, deputy commanding general of operations for the 25th Infantry Division. "That is the No. 1, bottom-line, up-front, in-your-face task and purpose."
About 10,000 soldiers, with a full complement of attack helicopters, close-air support, Strykers and Bradley fighting vehicles, are taking part in Arrowhead Ripper, which is still in its opening stages. Elements of the 1st Cavalry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team from Fort Hood, Texas, the 2nd Infantry Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team from Fort Lewis, Wash., and the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade from Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, also are participating in the operation.
"One of the keys as we initiate combat actions and operations here is the newly formed Diyala Operations Center," Bednarek said. "It serves as an integration center that will coordinate all activities in Diyala (including) the police, the army and coalition forces from Task Force Lightning.
In a separate operation south of Baghdad today, coalition forces raided a series of buildings targeting associates of an al Qaeda emir in the area. As ground forces approached the buildings, a man ran out of the house and rushed toward coalition forces, ignoring the soldiers' translator's instructions to stop.
Coalition forces, reacting to the perceived hostile threat, shot and killed the man. Inside the building, coalition forces detained a suspected terrorist with alleged ties to the targeted emir, military officials said.
Additionally, coalition forces captured a suspected associate of senior al Qaeda leaders in the Iraqi capital today, and detained three suspects with alleged ties to terrorist leaders. Troops also found a small weapons cache.
In Anbar province, two separate coalition operations today netted six suspected terrorists associated with senior al Qaeda leaders, officials said. Troops nabbed three individuals south of Fallujah for their alleged involvement in planting improvised explosive devices and organizing terrorist groups in the area. Forces detained three suspects with alleged ties to terrorist leaders west of Tarmiyah.
During two operations in Mosul today, coalition forces detained two suspected terrorists in raids targeting individuals involved in a terrorist cell responsible for hijacking and kidnapping operations, and financing terrorist activities.
"Our continued pressure on the leaders and operatives of the al Qaeda network is denying them breathing space in Iraq," said Army Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman. "The crumbling network has no place in the future of Iraq."
Soldiers from the 5th Iraqi Army Division killed four extremist gunmen and detained two others during two engagements in Baqubah yesterday. In a separate engagement nearby, coalition attack helicopters from the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade and coalition ground forces identified four extremists operating in a wooded area. Attack helicopters engaged and killed the four extremists.
Coalition forces raided a building in Baghdad yesterday and captured a suspected terrorist linked to a car bomb network. The detainee allegedly obtains supplies and components for the car bomb network.
On June 17, Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers detained six suspects at an alleged IED cell site near Abu Saida. While searching the area, soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, detained the men allegedly responsible for recent attacks on civilians, Iraqi security forces and coalition forces in the area, officials said.
In the village of Duraiya the same day, soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, detained five suspects and seized a rifle. The unit's mission, according to the battalion's leaders, was to disrupt key insurgent networks in the battalion's area of operation.
As a part of the Multinational Division Center's Operation Marne Torch, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, soldiers have begun aggressive operations to eliminate insurgent sanctuaries southeast of Baghdad. The battalion has conducted three air assault missions in the last 12 days to eliminate or deter destabilizing influences in the region.
"When the enemy chooses not to engage us, in the areas they consider sanctuaries, it shows us that the enemy fears us. It also shows the local population that we will protect them," said Army 1st Lt. Josh Powers, assistant operations officer for the regiment, which is assigned to the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, from Fort Benning, Ga.
In other news, troops seized multiple caches June 17 near Tuwaitha as part of a coalition force effort to eliminate insurgent sanctuaries southeast of the Iraqi capital.
Soldiers from Company D, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, who are currently attached to 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, detained four individuals. Two detainees told coalition forces the locations of multiple cache sites, which contained 29 cell phones, three AK-47 assault rifles, body armor and ammunition.
(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq and Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)