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U.S. Defense Says Attacks In Iraq Dropped By 70%

Coalition Military Offensive Registers Important Gains in Iraq

Enemy attacks in Baghdad area have dropped 70 percent, military says

By Howard Cincotta
Washington File Special Correspondent

Washington --- Despite casualties from rocket attacks and improvised explosives that draw media headlines, U.S. and coalition forces have succeeded in capturing or killing large numbers of regime loyalists, terrorists, and outright criminals in recent military operations, according to the U.S. Central Command (Centcom).

The coalition has also seized or destroyed substantial caches of rockets, explosives, and other munitions, Centcom said.

On November 20, for example, the U.S. commander of the First Armored Division, Brigadier General Martin E. Dempsey, said that enemy attacks in and around Baghdad had dropped by 70 percent since U.S. forces went on the offensive in Operation Iron Hammer.

According to an Armed Forces Press Service report, Dempsey told reporters in Baghdad and Washington in a video teleconference that Iron Hammer is a joint operation involving the U.S. Army and Air Force as well as Iraqi civil defense units and police.

Dempsey described the operation as based on three elements: intelligence-gathering, which relies heavily on Iraqi citizens; reconnaissance in force; and direct attacks with air and ground forces. "Fundamentally, we want to communicate to the enemy the high cost of continuing to resist, as well as to assure the good citizens of Baghdad of our resolve," Dempsey said.

Dempsey showed a videotape of an Army attack helicopter that tracked a truck from the site of a rocket attack back to a safe house, where it was attacked. Two insurgents were killed, three wounded, and eight captured.

In the Ar Ramadi region, the 82nd Airborne Division has conducted an aggressive series of military operations to improve security by targeting Baathist loyalists, terrorists, and criminal elements, according to a November 23 Centcom news release. In recent U.S. military raids and joint operations with Iraqi border guards and police, the coalition captured 60 enemy personnel, Centcom said.

At the same time, according to Centcom, U.S. forces in Operation Rifles Blitz captured 31 enemy personnel and confiscated small arms weapons in the last 24 hours.

"Yesterday's raids netted eight individuals who were targeted for specific crimes against the coalition and the Iraqi people," Centcom reported. "The Iraqi police participated in all of the individual missions."

Military operations conducted earlier in the week by the 82nd Airborne resulted in the capture of more than 100 regime loyalists, many in joint operations with Iraqi security forces. Along with large quantities of rifles, ammunition, rocket-propelled grenades and other munitions, the military confiscated fake identification cards, radios, and Jordanian and Syrian currency.

U.S. soldiers also captured an anti-coalition cell leader and six others November 19 in Fallujah, according to Centcom.

A November 20 Centcom report stated: "Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division, 1st Infantry Division, and 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment remain committed to the destruction of enemy forces and assisting the peaceful Iraqi population in the recovery efforts."

Despite its own continuing losses and casualties, Centcom officers recognize that it is the Iraqi people who bear the heaviest cost of the terrorism in their country. On November 23, following the deaths of Iraqi police and civilians in terrorist bombings, Major General Raymond Odierno, commander of the 4th Infantry Division, expressed his condolences to the families of the dead and injured.

"The people responsible for this Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence have no regard for innocent lives," Odierno said in a Centcom report. "The families of the police officers killed, along with tens of thousands of other police officers who have taken an oath to bring security and stability to Iraq, can take solace in the fact that because of their sacrifice, Iraq will know peaceful freedom and enduring democracy."

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