NEW BAGHDAD, IRAQ: Iraqi and Coalition forces discovered two large weapons caches in northeastern Baghdad, including seven of the deadly EFPs, or explosively formed penetrators, commonly used against armored vehicles. Elements of the 10th Mountain Division’s 4th Brigade combat team and Iraqi National Police raided more than 100 homes during the night, confiscating dozens of rifles, mortar shells and anti-tank mines that can be used as IEDs, or Improvised Explosive Devices.
The caches included more than 40 mortar rounds, a complete 81 millimeter mortar system, additional mortar tubes and base plates, an M-4 rifle and 45 fuses. Much of the haul was discovered at the Al Oubaidy market, where shop owners are often intimidated into allowing militia sympathetic to Iranian-supported Special Groups or members of Muqtada al Sadr’s Mahdi Army, said U.S. soldiers involved in the seizures.
“With every passing week that we can keep the Iraqi police doing ‘their business,’ the Iraqi government gets stronger,” said Lieutenant Colonel Gregory Baine, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment of the U.S. 10th Mountain Division, who oversaw operations.
The haul is the second large raid on hidden munitions in a week by the units, as Iraqi police and military forces attempt take control of security from U.S.-led Coalition forces by the end of 2008. Later this week, the U.S. military will transfer control of security in Anbar Province to Iraqi forces, making it the 10th province out of 18 to have security returned to Iraqi hands since the Coalition invasion in 2003.
“If we continue doing these kinds of operations, then we could see a change over in security by the end of the year,” said Iraqi National Police General Ali Ibrahim Dapoon Al Magsosi. “Iraqi and American forces are working together as one team.”
Some of the mortars may have been used by insurgents against U.S. troops in late March, when the Iraqi military’s intervention into Basrah in southern Iraq caused elements within the Mahdi Army to fight Iraqi and Coalition forces throughout northern Baghdad. Earlier this week, a senior Iranian-trained Special Groups commander was captured in northeastern Baghdad along with two associates.
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