Thursday, December 01, 2005

Good news from Iraq...

Operation Iron Hammer Launched in Iraq U.S. and Iraqi troops launched Operation Iron Hammer on Nov. 30, the U.S. military announced. The operation is aimed at clearing the Hai Al Becker region, about 106 miles west of Baghdad, of insurgents and securing the area for Iraq's Dec. 15 national elections. Approximately 2,000 U.S. troops are being assisted by about 500 Iraqi army soldiers in the operation.The operation will clear the area of Al Qaeda in the run-up to the Dec. 15 election:The Hai Al Becker region is suspected to be an al Qaeda in Iraq safe area and base of operations for the manufacture of vehicle car bombs, roadside bombs. It is also believed to be a stopping point for terrorists as they transit the ‘rat lines’ down the Euphrates River from Syria into the interior of Iraq. In early July, Iraqi and U.S. Forces established long-term security presence in the city of Hit during Operation Saif (Sword). During Saif, few terrorists were located; however, a score of weapons caches have been discovered in the region. Operation Iron Hammer will clear the area on the eastern side of the Euphrates River, an area not typically patrolled by Iraqi and U.S. Forces.In Babil Province, Iraqis have taken over security operations: The 2nd Iraqi Army Brigade here successfully completed its certification process Nov. 29, military officials reported. From now on, 2nd Brigade will plan and conduct independent operations within its area of responsibility, officials said. Multinational division support will be given only in emergencies by a quick-reaction force, medical evacuation or air support. Multinational division military advisers and trainers will still monitor 2nd Brigade activities, officials said. The 2nd Brigade consists of two battalions located in different places within the province. It numbers about 1,800 soldiers equipped in light armored vehicles with a variety of weapons. The brigade has taken part in five combat operations so far in cooperation with coalition forces. In other news, U.S. troops uncovered a large weapons cache near Kirkuk: Iraqi and U.S. forces have removed more than 4,200 mortar rounds from a major weapons cache found Nov. 27 outside of an abandoned military base near Kirkuk, Iraq, military officials reported. The ammunition was buried under concrete blocks with dirt mounded on top. All ammunition removed so far has come from one mound located in a field full of similar mounds. The explosives ordnance disposal team at the site expects to find more rounds as the search expands throughout the field. "It was a good find," said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Wayne, the explosives team chief at the site. "I'm glad we found it over someone else. All those rounds are potential (improvised explosive devices). We just stopped that many more IEDs."

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