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Saturday, November 17, 2007

500-Pound Bombs Slam al-Qaida Staging Area on Euphrates Island

U.S. F-16 fighter jets dropped two 2000-pound bombs on an island in the Euphrates Nov. 16 that was believed to be used by al-Qaida as a staging ground for attacks. (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle footage)

Saturday, 17 November 2007

BAGHDAD — Operation Marne Courageous kicked off the early morning of Nov. 16 with more than (600) Coalition forces and Iraqi Army (IA) Soldiers moving into two villages near the border of Anbar province to drive out al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI), and lay the groundwork for a sustained Coalition presence. Bomb Drop Video

Soldiers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), were joined by about (150) IA Soldiers in the air assault on the Sunni villages of Owesat and al Betra, west of the Euphrates River, 15 miles southwest of Baghdad.

Troops were transported in four helicopter lifts across the Euphrates, utilizing two CH-47 Chinook and eight UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. A Marine reconnaissance platoon, as well as Soldiers of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, stationed in neighboring Anbar province, secured the landing zone.

Once on the ground, the U.S.-Iraqi force was supported by an air weapons team of Apache and Kiowa helicopters, while approximately (70) members of an Iraqi Concerned Local Citizens (CLC) group assisted in securing the outlying perimeter.

While U.S. and Iraqi forces moved through the villages, other troops set to work constructing a bridge across the Euphrates to allow for the transport of materials and supplies to build a patrol base in the area. The base will allow for a sustained Coalition presence in the area of Owesat, part of Baghdad’s southwestern “belts.”

No enemy fighters were killed or captured during the assault.

Prior to the air assault, U.S. F-16 fighter jets dropped two 2000-pound bombs on an island in the Euphrates that was believed to be used by AQI as a staging ground for attacks. The bombardment was part of a “terrain denial” strategy, cutting off a potential AQI escape route and denying the enemy a location to regroup.

Marne Courageous’ main strategic thrust is to clear AQI extremists from the area of Owesat, establish a Coalition presence, and develop a CLC program in the area as a bulwark against further enemy activity.

Army Col. Dominic Caraccilo, commander of the 3rd BCT, 101st Abn. Div., described the mission to journalists Nov. 11. “We’re going to put a footprint there. We’re going to establish a forward operating base,” he said.

The mission was also conducted because Coalition forces believe AQI operating in the area were involved with the May 12 attack which resulted in two missing/captured U.S. Soldiers, Pvt. Byron Fouty and Spc. Alex Jimenez, belonging to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry). The 3rd BCT, 101st Abn. Div., took over the mission of the 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. at the end of October.

“The Soldiers that were captured and still missing from the 10th Mountain are now part of the Rakkasan unit, and also part of the Task Force Marne unit. And the mission I have is to exploit every avenue to try to identify where they are,” Caraccilo said.

(Story by By Tim Kilbride, Multi-National Division-Center Public Affairs)

In Other Recent Developments Here:

BAGHDAD — Almost 100 Iraqi Correctional Officers graduated from the Iraqi CorrectionalOfficerTraining Academy at a ceremony held Nov. 8 at Camp Cropper.

BAGHDAD — Coalition forces killed six terrorists and detained 10 suspects today during operations targeting terrorist networks in central and northern Iraq.

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