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Iraq Report: Phantom Strike continues

The Iraqi security forces and Multinational Forces Iraq are pressing hard with Operation Phantom Strike, the efforts to target al Qaeda in Iraq and the Shia terror cells of the Special Groups and "rogue" Mahdi Army throughout Iraq. Over the past 24 hours, US and Iraq security forces conducted multiple major raids, with scores of al Qaeda, Mahdi Army, and Special Groups operatives killed or captured.

US and Iraqi forces conducted two major raids against the Iranian-backed Shia terror groups on August 19. Special operations forces captured a leader of the Iranian-backed Special Groups who also smuggles weapons, including armor-piercing explosively formed penetrators, from Iran into Iraq. While conducting the raids near Qasirin, north of Baghdad, Coalition forces killed eight members of the Special Groups security team and captured two others.

Iraqi Special Forces, backed by US Special Forces advisers, killed 17 members of the Mahdi Army during two separate operations in Baghdad. Six members of the Mahdi Army were also captured during the operations against the Mahdi Army cells, which were involved in IED attacks and extrajudicial killings.

As the Iranian-backed Shia cells are targeted, US and Iraqi forces are heavily targeting al Qaeda's network. On August 17, Iraqi Army soldiers, backed by US Special Forces advisers, captured 31 suspected al Qaeda in Iraq operatives while conducting a meeting in Sayafiyah. The al Qaeda cell is believed to be behind IED attacks, weapons smuggling and extrajudicial killings in the region. US forces launched Operation Marne Husky on August 17 in the Sayafiyah region.

Three al Qaeda operatives were killed and 28 captured during raids against al Qaeda's network in Baghdad, Hawijah, Kirkuk, Mosul, and Bayji on August 18 and 19. Also, in Baghdad on August 19, the local neighborhood watch in the Mechaniks area of the Rashid District captured 11 suspected al Qaeda operatives and turned them over to US forces operating in the area.

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