Courtesy of Multi-National Force Iraq
Recent intelligence indicated villages in the area are used as safe havens for al-Qaeda in Iraq cells and foreign terrorist facilitators. Reports also indicated the area is used by al-Qaeda to operate illegal checkpoints, conduct meetings and to launch operations.
Upon entering the area late Monday, Coalition forces observed several groups of men from multiple locations gathering into positions in nearby palm groves. One group then began to maneuver toward the ground force. Perceiving hostile intent, supporting aircraft was used to suppress the threat, killing five terrorists and wounding one suspect who was subsequently detained. As the ground force secured the area they discovered a weapons cache consisting of 105mm artillery rounds, one homemade rocket firing mount and several AK-47 ammunition magazines.
During operations Tuesday, time-sensitive intelligence led Coalition forces to the location of a suspected improvised explosive device cell member. The targeted man and another suspect surrendered to the ground force without incident. The men also positively identified the suspected terrorist that was captured on Monday as another member of the cell.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Coalition forces discovered several weapons caches in marsh areas that were connected by a series of small trails and tunnels. While searching one of the caches, the ground force was engaged by a man with an assault rifle. Responding in self-defense, Coalition forces engaged, wounding the man. Following the engagement, a group of men in a truck drove toward Coalition forces, demonstrating hostile intent. Supporting aircraft engaged the threat, killing six terrorists.
As Coalition forces cleared the area, they discovered additional weapons caches with mortar systems, mortar rounds, 20mm ammunition rounds, homemade pressure plate mines, and homemade mines filled with nails for projectiles. All weapons were safely destroyed on site.
“There are no safe havens for al-Qaeda in Iraq,” said Maj. Winfield Danielson, MNF-I spokesman. “With continued assistance from Iraqi citizens, we are achieving success every day.”