Thursday, January 17, 2008
Soldiers supporting Operation Phantom Phoenix, a series of division- and brigade-level strikes against al Qaeda and other extremists in Iraq, continue to disrupt terrorist safe havens and bases throughout the country, military officials reported.
Multinational Division Center soldiers, in support of Operation Phantom Phoenix, captured 15 suspected extremists, including a high-value target individual, during an air assault raid 25 miles south of Baghdad Jan. 14, officials said yesterday.
The suspect is believed to be involved in planning attacks against Iraqi security and coalition forces and for contributing to sectarian violence. Soldiers from Company C, 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division captured the suspects based on a tip from a local citizen.
Operation Marne Thunderbolt is under way in southern Arab Jabour to flush out remaining al Qaeda elements and create conditions for security and stability in the region.
More than 40 enemy targets were hit January 10th during one of the largest U.S. air strikes since the war began, officials reported yesterday. Targets included known weapons caches and improvised explosive device locations, which were hit by a bomb blitz where more than 40,000 pounds of bombs were dropped in the first 10-minute wave.
The targets resulted from months of intelligence gathering, officials said. Much of the intelligence came from concerned local citizens in the area, "protecting their own, protecting their towns," said Army Col. Terry Ferrell, commander of the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division.
Ferrell said the purpose of the strikes was to eliminate the enemy's "defensive belt" of buried explosives and caches designed to deny coalition and Iraqi security forces' movement in the area.
"We continue to look for the enemy...never giving him a chance to rest or believe that he has ground that he can say that he owns," Ferrell said.
"As we expand with the Iraqi security forces and the concerned citizens and we go into new communities, we will maintain a presence," Ferrell said. "The key here is establishing that forward so that they, too, can grow and have the same successes ... that occurred in Al Buaytha, northern Arab Jabour, and Hawr Rajeb and so forth."
Troops from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, continue to push forward on the ground, working with Iraqi security forces and local citizens to ensure freedom of movement in the area.
More than 30 extremists are dead and 15 weapons caches have been found and destroyed during operations to date.
Operation Iron Harvest, a division-level operation in support of Phantom Phoenix, continues to pursue the enemies of Iraq across the country's northern provinces to improve the lives of Iraqi citizens.
Coalition forces discovered a car bomb factory, terrorist command cell and large cache in the western desert of Salah ad Din province during Iron Harvest's first week as a direct result of tips from local citizens.
Also in Salah ad Din, coalition and Iraqi forces finished a project to improve security in and around Samarra. The project helps control the flow of traffic in and out of Samarra to keep al Qaeda and other extremists from freely entering the city, while improving the city's access to commerce.
In Nineveh, soldiers from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment detained a known al Qaeda bomb-maker and explosive device cell leader and one of his accomplices in the Tamooz neighborhood of Mosul.
Also in Nineveh, a joint coalition and Iraqi police operation uncovered a large weapons cache in the village of Aitha. The cache contained more than 20 rockets.
U.S. and Iraqi soldiers met with sheiks north of Mosul to discuss improvements in infrastructure, security and the economy. In related projects, American and Iraqi engineers worked together to install culverts in the village of Timarat near the city of Tal Afar. Coalition and Iraqi medical personnel provided free medical care in the town of Sinjar Domeez.
In Hawija, another large group of tribal members signed up for their "Isnad," the Arabic term for government support movement. The Isnad is Kirkuk's concerned local citizens movement. More than 1,400 prospective members have been screened on Forward Operating Base McHenry. The additional members will man checkpoints in the vicinity of Riyad, a contentious area within the Hawijah district.