American Forces Press Service
Sept. 8, 2007 - Coalition forces captured five terrorism suspects in raids today, and other operations by Iraqi and coalition forces in recent days have taken more alleged terrorists off the streets, military officials reported. Officials also provided details of a recent unmanned aerial vehicle mission that was a "first" for the Army.
Separate raids in Kirkuk today targeted the head of the city's car-bombing network and a key communications link within the al Qaeda in Iraq terrorism network. The ground forces detained three suspected terrorists in the operations. In Mosul, coalition forces detained two suspected terrorists while targeting close associates of al Qaeda in Iraq senior leaders.
"We're continuing to put pressure on al Qaeda's networks to squeeze them out of their hiding places and into our custody so they cannot attack the Iraqi people," Army Lt. Col. Charles Perenick, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman, said.
In other recent operations:
-- Iraqi security forces with U.S. Special Forces advisors detained a key leader and a supporter of an Iraqi criminal network during an early morning raid yesterday in Saiwaia, near Samarra. The suspected leader is directly related to kidnappings and murders of Samarra citizens, officials said.
-- In an intelligence-driven raid near Qaim in Iraq's Anbar province Sept. 6, Iraqi security forces detained a man believed to be responsible for providing weapons, water and food to insurgents operating in the southern Rutbah deserts south of Qaim.
-- Also on Sept. 6, coalition and Iraqi forces conducted a combined ground and air assault in southwestern Kirkuk province as part of Operation Lightning Hammer II. U.S. soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, with units from the 4th Iraqi Army Division, maneuvered into the Riyadh valley and began operations to deny insurgents safe haven. The combined forces now are clearing villages to identify and root out Sunni extremists suspected to be in the area, officials said, and have detained at least eight people for alleged terrorist activity. Simultaneously in the neighboring Rashad valley, more than 400 coalition and Iraqi ground combat forces swept nearly a dozen villages. Partnered with 4th Iraqi Army Division soldiers, along with local police and the Iraqi Emergency Services Unit, U.S. soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, worked to clear the villages in the area and to provide food and other humanitarian aid to families. Nine people were detained.
--Iraqi soldiers discovered multiple vehicle bombs and a large improvised explosive device in Iraq's Ninewah province Sept. 6 as part of Operation Lightning Hammer II.
The 2nd Iraqi Army Division soldiers found three vehicles rigged as bombs and 21 IEDs in western Mosul. A search of nearby homes uncovered three sedans being prepared as car bombs, 18 rocket-propelled grenades, a PKC machine gun with 600 rounds of ammunition, three AK-47 assault rifles and 10 grenades. The Iraqi soldiers also detained 19 suspected enemy fighters.
-- In Diyala province on Sept. 5, 5th Iraqi Army Division soldiers, partnered with U.S. soldiers from 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, conducted Operation Wickersham III in support of Task Force Lightning's Operation Lightning Hammer II. The operation, designed to remove al-Qaeda influence south of Buhriz, resulted in the discovery of three weapons caches and five improvised explosive devices. Four detainees were located in the vicinity of a cache and were transferred to a facility for further questioning.
A "first" for U.S. Army Aviation took place Sept. 1, military officials announced today, when a Hunter unmanned aerial vehicle engaged and killed two suspected roadside bomb emplacers near Qayyarah in Iraq's Ninewah province.
A scout weapons team from 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, saw the men in a tactical overwatch near a roadside. The team requested Hunter UAV support. The pilots guided the Hunter operator to the scene, where it set up for a strike mission and dropped its precision munition, killing both men and marking a first in Army Aviation history.
"It's very humbling to know that we have set an Army historical mark in having the first successful launch in combat from an Army weaponized UAV," said Capt. Raymond Fields, commander, Unmanned Aerial Surveillance Company. "This would not be possible without my soldiers and civilians working hard day in and day out in Iraq to accomplish this feat."
Fields said he believes the success will set the tone for Army Aviation in years to come. "We will see more weaponized Army unmanned vehicles being used instead of manned platforms to save not only our aviator brethren but (also) our Army ground brethren from enemy contact."
Army Col. A.T. Ball, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade commander, said the ability to use UAVs provides "a precise and discriminate means for our Army to successfully engage the enemy in counterinsurgency warfare."
(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq, Multinational Corps Iraq and Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Arabian Peninsula news releases.)