FORWARD OPERATING BASE HIT, Iraq -- Eight days of back-breaking searches through villages and fields along the western Euphrates River valley have yielded thousands of pieces of ordnance as Iraqi Army soldiers and U.S. Marines continue Operation Wadi Aljundi (Koa Canyon) in Iraq’s Al Anbar province.
Aimed at isolating insurgents and their weapons, the combined Iraqi and U.S. force began the latest sweep Jan. 15, and have uncovered a staggering amount of weaponry.
The soldiers and Marines are making their way inch-by-inch through caves, fields, wadis, and islands in an attempt to disrupt the insurgents.
So far, the combined force has found and destroyed more than 4,300 artillery and mortar rounds, rockets, and mines; 267 kilograms (590 pounds) of explosive powder, 10,000 rounds of various types of ammunition (ranging from small-arms to tank main gun rounds), 300 blasting caps, approximately 100 ft. of detonation cord, and several working machine guns and mortar systems.
"Every piece of ordnance that is uncovered is one less potential IED [improvised explosive device] that may be used against Iraqi civilians, Iraqi Security and Coalition forces." said Marine Col. Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr., the commander of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable).
TIKRIT, Iraq -- Iraqi security forces and Task Force Band of Brothers Soldiers detained 51 suspected terrorists during a series of unrelated actions throughout northern Iraq Jan. 24.
In the largest action of the day, Iraqi troops from the 2nd Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army Division planned and conducted a large early morning raid in three villages outside of Baqubah. The unit detained 19 suspects, including eight known to have strong ties to terrorists in the area.
In the Bayji area, Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team continued to make progress against terrorists that have plagued the area. Ten known or suspected terrorists were captured in and around the city.
Tips from Bayji area residents generated a series of early-morning searches south of the city which led to the capture of four men closely tied to a terrorist ring responsible for committing murders and beheadings in the area. A fifth man was killed after firing a pistol at the Soldiers searching his home.
In another positive development, a local tribal leader brought three suspected members of an IED cell from the Bayji area to a coalition base and turned them in to coalition forces.
The troops began their mission working from one tip and with each turn of events, another tip surfaced that carried the Soldiers to two separate caches and 12 individuals.