Iraqi Army Running One of Every Five Operations
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
The Iraq Army and security forces have been assigned 20 percent of all counter-insurgency operations in the country.
U.S. officials said 35 battalion-size operations take place daily in Iraq. They said Iraqi security forces have been responsible for about 20 percent of these missions. The Iraq Army operates two brigades in the Baghdad area.
Brig. Gen. Donald Alston, a U.S. spokesman for Multinational Force, Iraq, said the Iraqi military presence has encouraged the flow of intelligence on insurgents and their weapons. Alston told a briefing on Thursday that several weapons caches were being discovered weekly in the Baghdad area, Middle East Newsline reported.
The caches include counterfeit U.S. money, mines, anti-tank missiles, anti-aircraft guns, dynamite and bombs. Iraqi forces have also foiled suicide car bombings on a nearly daily basis.
U.S. officials said coalition forces have captured two high-ranking Al Qaida operatives with ties to network chief Abu Mussib Al Zarqawi. Officials identified the operatives as Abdullah Ibrahim Muhammed Hassan Al Shadad, or Abu Abdul Aziz, and Khamis Farhan Khalaf Abdul Fahdawi, or Abu Seba.
Abdul Aziz, captured on July 10, was said to have served as both a cell leader in Baghdad and an operations officer for Al Qaida in Iraq. Abu Seba, described as a senior Al Qaida aide, was captured the previous day in Ramadi and believed responsible for attacks against diplomats from Bahrain and Pakistan as well as the recent killing of Egyptian ambassador Ihab Salah Al Din Ahmad Al Sharif.
On Thursday, Iraqi security forces in Baghdad prevented an attack by a car bomb and two suicide vest bombers. Alston said Iraqi soldiers at a checkpoint quickly spotted the suspicious vehicle, which exploded about 200 meters away. A civilian was said to have been killed in the explosion.
At that point, two suicide bombers who were in front of the destroyed car began walking toward Iraqi soldiers. Officials said an Iraqi soldier shot one suicide bomber and his explosive belt detonated.
Shrapnel from that explosion wounded the second suicide bomber. When the soldiers saw that the wounded man was wearing an explosive belt, he, too, was shot by Iraqi troops.
Iraq's military and security forces number more than 170,000, most of them police. They include special police units that have been guarding foreign embassies in Baghdad.
On July 9, members of a special Iraqi police unit discovered a rocket-propelled grenade round near the Kuwait embassy. An explosive ordnance disposal team was called in and safely removed the round.
"Casualties were minimized because they performed their critical jobs so well," Alston said. "They continue to make progress and develop their capability to provide for the defense of their country."
Alston said that over the next few weeks Iraqi forces would be given additional areas of responsibility. He said the transfer of security responsibility would depend on the readiness of the Iraqi forces.
"Our constant pressure on insurgents, the continued progress of the Iraqi security forces and the reconstruction projects that are being completed will help them achieve those aims," Alston said.
Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reaffirmed the expanding security responsibility of Iraq's military and police. Myers told the Foreign Press Center in Washington that an Iraqi battalion has taken over from El Salvadoran forces in Diwaniyah, southeast of Baghdad.
This was the third area transferred by the U.S.-led coalition to Iraqi military and security forces. The others areas were in northern Baghdad and in Kirkuk.
"This is significant because it demonstrates that yet another unit is capable of planning and executing and sustaining operations with some level of coalition support," Myers said on Thursday.
Source: World Tribune
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