ispatches from the Front:
Amid continued reports of success, it would seem a blackout is in effect Thursday for news out of Iraq.
Buried behind a page full of headlines, The Associated Press
reluctantly reports even some critics of President Bush's Iraq war policies are conceding there is evidence of recent improvements from a military standpoint. But AP tempers the news by stating Bush supporters and critics alike agree that these have not been matched by any noticeable progress on the political front.
Still, there have been signs of changes in attitudes, some on the ground in Iraq, some in the United States:
- Two critics of Bush's recent handling of Iraq, Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack, both of the Brookings Institution, penned an op-ed opinion piece in The New York Times suggesting after a visit that "we are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms." They recommended Congress sustain the current troop buildup "at least into 2008."
- Leading anti-war Democrat Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania predicted that U.S. commanders will begin drawing down troop levels early next year and that Congress can be more flexible in setting a fixed deadline for ending the U.S. occupation.
- Polls suggest that Bush has had some degree of success in linking Islamic militants in Iraq with the al-Qaida terrorist movement.
Coalition Targets Terrorist Cells, al Qaeda Associates in Iraq(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq, Multinational Corps Iraq and Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Arabian Peninsula news releases.)
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 9, 2007 -- Coalition forces killed three terrorists and detained 21 suspected terrorists in Iraq’s Tigris River Valley over the past two days.
West of Balad yesterday, coalition forces killed three terrorists in a precision operation targeting the leader of a terrorist cell of foreigners and internationally connected Iraqis associated with al Qaeda. The cell is known to provide logistics support to al Qaeda, as well as facilitating suicide bombings and the movement of foreign terrorists, military officials reported. Coalition forces found rocket-propelled grenades, rifles and propane tanks in the vehicle the terrorists were driving.
Based on information from that operation, coalition forces raided five buildings west of Balad this morning. The ground forces captured a man they believed to be associated with foreign terrorist groups hiding in a well near the buildings.
"As long as terrorists continue to conduct their brutal attacks against the people of Iraq and those who seek to bring security to the country, we will continue to work toward eliminating the threat," said Army Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman.
In other operations today:
- Coalition forces captured the suspected deputy of a senior al Qaeda leader north of Tikrit. The captured individual allegedly works for the terrorist emir of Salah ad Din province, who allegedly was involved in strategy development for al Qaeda. In addition to the deputy, coalition forces detained seven individuals for suspected ties to the terrorist leader.
- In Mosul, coalition forces targeted a suspected al Qaeda operative who allegedly escaped from prison in March and conducted attacks against coalition forces in May. Ground forces detained three suspected terrorists for alleged ties to the terrorist group.
In operations yesterday:
- Coalition forces detained nine suspected terrorists in Mosul while targeting a close associate of an al Qaeda in Iraq senior leader.
- Iraqi special operations forces with U.S. Special Forces advisors detained five suspected militia insurgents in Baghdad’s Mahmudiyah neighborhood. The primary individual detained is suspected of trafficking weapons. He is also the alleged leader of a death squad whose members are known to conduct kidnapping, torture and execution of local Iraqi citizens. Iraqi forces detained four other suspicious individuals during the raid. In addition, the extremists are suspected of emplacing explosively formed penetrators that target coalition and Iraqi forces.
- Iraqi and U.S. special operations forces detained a militia cell commander in Karbala, a town on the southwestern outskirts of Baghdad. He is believed to have directed and overseen attacks on coalition forces using improvised explosive devices and explosively formed penetrators on multiple occasions. One other suspicious individual also was detained.
In earlier operations:
- An alleged militia cell death squad leader and four members of his cell were detained in Bghdad’s East Rashid district. The extremist leads a cell that kidnaps local citizens, displaces residents from their homes, and kills Sunnis and Egyptians in the Baghdad area.
- Iraqi and U.S. Special Forces units captured five suspected al Qaeda terrorists near the village of Ibrahim Sinjar during operations in western Iraq on Aug. 7. Information from local residents indicated that al Qaeda used the village for meetings and storing weapons caches and medication. These suspected terrorists are believed to be involved in attacks against Iraqi security forces using improvised explosive devices, U.S. officials said. After moving residents to a safe distance, a house used by al Qaeda to store explosives, stage attacks and facilitate operations, was destroyed by U. S. Special Forces soldiers. In addition, weapons, ammunitions, and Iraqi and U.S currency at the site were seized.
- A joint operation conducted by Iraq police and army units with coalition advisors netted seven detainees and seized more than a dozen weapons northwest of the provincial capital Aug. 7. All the men detained were wanted by Iraqi security forces for suspected crimes or insurgent activity. The men were detained in different areas of the village. Weapons seized by the local security forces included 14 AK-47 machine guns, a pistol and a bolt-action rifle.
- Iraqi and U.S. special operations soldiers destroyed a car-bomb cache Aug. 6 in a village near Sinjar. Already in the area conducting vehicle inspections, the Iraqi and U.S. air assault force noticed suspicious materials in the bed of a truck that contained four individuals. The forces stopped the vehicle, causing the four armed suspected terrorists to run in opposite directions. The vehicle contained five 120 mm mortar rounds, a 120 mm mortar system including the tripod and base plate, a rocket-propelled grenade, a machine gun with 1,000 rounds of ammunition, an improvised three-tube rocket launcher system, two cell phones and a video camera.
Additional media sources: CNN
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