Iraqi security and coalition forces began a major operation to clear al Qaeda from western Ramadi in Iraq's Anbar province, military officials reported today.
Task Force 1-9 Infantry and Iraqi army soldiers and police began offensive operations this morning to establish and maintain security in downtown Ramadi.
"This operation will benefit the people of Ramadi by establishing security and providing basic services and necessities," Army Col. John Charlton, commander of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, said.
"Al Qaeda has intimidated the people of Ramadi through murder, kidnapping and the destruction of their city," he said. "The sons of Anbar are here to establish and maintain security."
This is the fourth large-scale operation planned and coordinated by Iraqi security and coalition forces in Ramadi since the 1st BCT assumed control of the region in mid-February.
In other news from Iraq, coalition forces killed five terrorists and detained 22 suspected terrorists in operations during the past week targeting foreign fighter facilitation and al Qaeda in Iraq networks, military officials reported.
During a four-day operation near Karmah, coalition forces killed two terrorists after receiving enemy fire and detained 10 suspected terrorists. Three hostages were liberated and treated for injuries they suffered while in captivity.
Several weapons caches were discovered, consisting of five anti-aircraft heavy machine guns, 12 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, homemade rocket launchers, mortar tubes, 57 mm rockets, improvised explosive devices, and multiple wired propane tanks. The caches were destroyed at the scene to prevent future use by terrorists.
Coalition forces conducted a raid targeting known foreign fighter facilitators operating near Taji today, officials said. During the raid of one site, coalition forces encountered and killed an armed terrorist.
Two more terrorists ran from a targeted building and set up defensive positions along the embankment of an irrigation canal. Coalition forces used self-defense measures, killing the two terrorists, officials said. Near the targeted site, four suspected terrorists surrendered and were detained. Women and children were present during the operations, but none were injured.
"Terrorists continue to deliberately place innocent Iraqi women and children in danger by operating among them," rmy Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, Multinational Force Iraq spokesman, said. "Coalition forces take extensive precautions to protect civilians while in pursuit of terrorists."
Coalition forces also captured seven suspected terrorists southwest of Karbala today during a raid targeting foreign fighter facilitators. Also, suspect with alleged ties to al Qaeda in Iraq was detained north of Karmah.
Elsewhere in Iraq, coalition and Iraqi forces discovered a cache containing homemade explosives southwest of Radwaniyah yesterday, officials reported.
Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment "Golden Dragons," 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, discovered the explosives, totaling 700 pounds, in potato sacks along a reed line during a combat patrol.
The contents of the cache were destroyed during a controlled detonation conducted by an explosive ordnance disposal team.
Meanwhile in Baghdad yesterday, Iraqi security forces and Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers continued operations in support of Operation Fardh al-Qanoon to help set on-going conditions for a stable and self-reliant Iraq, officials report.
In the past week, elements from this MND-B unit have conducted 138 missions, resulting in the discovery of 21 improvised explosive devises successfully taking these insurgent-driven threats off the streets.
Finding the IEDs helps provide a more secure area for both the Iraqi people and U.S. and Iraqi security forces operating within the capital, officials said.
In other operations this week, officials report that Iraqi and coalition forces detained 62 suspected terrorists, discovered four improvised explosive devices and found a massive weapons cache in the Mahmudiyah, Iraq area near the QaQaa Weapons Facility, March 23.
Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team detained the suspected terrorists and found the weapons cache during Operation Eagle Dive, an operation intended to disrupt anti-Iraqi forces within the 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, area of operations.
During the operation, soldiers discovered a series of small caches and consolidated it into one massive cache.
The nine caches contained a 120 mm mortar tube with a base plate, five 82 mm mortar tubes, a 82 mm base plate, three 82 mm tripods, a complete 60 mm mortar system, a mortar bore brush, 30 boxes of mortar primers, 70 loose mortar fuses, two sniper rifles with scopes, nine 155 mm projectiles, 122 82 mm projectiles, a 105 mm projectile, 122 82 mm projectiles, 106 60 mm projectiles, six rocket-propelled grenade systems, an RPG scope, an RPG night scope, 55 RPG-7 rounds, seven RPG rounds, 15 boxes of PKC ammunition, 18 AK-47s, 10 pounds of unknown explosives, 15 hand grenades, a partial 14.5 mm projectile, a M-759 fuse, 15 complete sets of Iraqi army uniforms, 20 feet of detonation cord, 24 blasting caps, three anti-aircraft platforms, two anti-aircraft barrels, 100 loose rounds, four acetylene tanks, three radios, an 8 mm video tape, various medical supplies, various propaganda compact discs and religious paperwork.
"These caches are probably related to larger trafficking of arms throughout that area," Army Lt. Col. Frank Andrews, the 2nd BCT executive officer, said. "The ... uniforms found in the cache were likely to be used by the terrorists to intimidate local nationals in the area in an effort to discredit the Iraqi army."
The caches were destroyed during a controlled detonation conducted by an explosive ordnance disposal team.
Also during operations, four improvised explosive devices were discovered in the area along one of the main routes leading into the Mahmudiyah area.