U.S. Forces Rescue Downed Helicopter Crew

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 3, 2007 - An AH-64 Apache helicopter crew rescued two U.S. pilots after enemy fire brought down their OH-58D Kiowa helicopter south of Baghdad yesterday.

The OH-58 pilots suffered minor injuries. An Air Force Thunderbolt II destroyed the downed helicopter with two 500-pound laser-guided bombs after the pilots were evacuated from the area.

In operations today, coalition forces killed three terrorists, detained 29 suspects and destroyed a cache of bomb-making materials, U.S. officials said.

A senior al Qaeda in Iraq leader was killed today by U.S. troops during a raid conducted west of Tarmiyah. The U.S. soldiers also detained seven suspected terrorists for alleged involvement with al Qaeda and their association with the deceased terrorist leader.

During an operation in western Baghdad, U.S. troops captured an alleged al Qaeda in Iraq operative suspected of conducting illegal checkpoints and numerous killings. Five suspected terrorists were detained during the operation, including the alleged al Qaeda agent.

Near Asad, U.S. troops captured a suspected al Qaeda in Iraq agent with alleged ties to foreign terrorists and a car-bomb network. This detainee also is suspected of involvement in a chlorine suicide-bomb attack in Fallujah in March. Three other suspected terrorists also were detained.

During a series of other raids in and around Asad, U.S. troops detained eight more suspects allegedly tied to the bomb-building network and destroyed three vehicles had used to transport insurgents and their weapons.

During another raid in Taji, U.S. forces netted five suspected terrorists allegedly linked to bomb-making activities. A cache of chemicals and bomb-making materials also were discovered. An explosives team destroyed the cache.

"We're continuing to target the (vehicle bomb) and homemade explosives networks to reduce the operations of the terrorists who indiscriminately attack Iraqi civilians," said Army Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman. "We remain committed to stopping those who would use violence to reignite the cycle of reciprocity of sectarian violence."

In operations yesterday, U.S. troops killed two terrorists, detained eight suspected terrorists, including a senior al Qaeda leader, and uncovered several bomb caches during operations targeting terrorist bombing networks in Baghdad.

U.S. troops killed a suspected terrorist who'd maneuvered upon their position and detained two more suspects for their alleged involvement with the deceased al Qaeda in Iraq senior leader. The U.S. soldiers also destroyed two vehicles used in the transport of enemy personnel and weapons.

As U.S. forces approached another targeted building, an armed man began firing on them from the backyard. U.S. troops returned fire and killed the man. Another suspect was detained at the location.

When U.S. troops raided two nearby buildings they found multiple caches of bomb-making material along with a vehicle used in terrorist activities. Six suspected terrorists were detained for their alleged involvement in the Baghdad bombing network.

"Dismantling the suicide bombing network in Baghdad is a top priority for us," Garver said. "We will continue to target al Qaeda and any groups that use vehicle-borne bombs to attack the Iraqi people."

In other Iraq news, a U.S. helicopter used its missiles to destroy a ZPU-1 anti-aircraft gun and a 120 mm mortar system located about 10 kilometers west of Iskandariyah on July 1.

Meanwhile, Iraqi police in Mahawil, about 50 miles south of Baghdad, detained the alleged brigade commander of a rogue Jaysh al-Mahdi militia July 1. The detainee is directly responsible for directing bombing attacks against Iraqi police and soldiers and coalition forces, U.S. officials said. One such attack killed five U.S. soldiers. Iraqi police also detained three other individuals and confiscated cell phones, computer hard drives, and passports and other documents.

And, U.S. troops destroyed a homemade bomb factory in the Diyala River Valley during a July 1 operation. The erstwhile factory was a single-story brick structure set near the village of Mikbisa, northeast of Baqubah. It was discovered during a routine patrol.

After entering the house U.S. troops found large amounts of fertilizer, ammonium nitrate and nitric acid, all key ingredients used in making explosives. The house also contained a drying room in which the entire floor was covered with over 500 lbs. of explosive material. Also, a number of chemical suits and boots, goggles, vapor masks and a large number of chemical gloves were found inside the house.

"This is a significant find and confirms that al Qaeda is working against the good people of Iraq," said Maj. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon, commander of Multinational Division North and Task Force Lightning.

In addition, at least 23 insurgents were killed in fighting 4 kilometers south of Ramadi on Jazzera al Humar (Donkey Island) along the Nassar Canal between June 30 and July 1. Coalition and Iraqi forces were in the area because they had received reports that a significant number of anti-Iraqi forces had gathered on the outskirts of Ramadi to stage a series of large-scale attacks.

The al Qaeda in Iraq-affiliated terror group planned to regain a base of operations in Anbar province by mounting suicide car- and vest-bomb attacks. The battle began June 30 when U.S. troops were attacked with small-arms fire from two trucks. The Americans returned fire and pursued the fleeing attackers with the help of Army AH-64A Apache helicopter gunships and Marine F-18 Hornet and AV-8B Harrier fighter jets. The U.S. helicopters killed at least one insurgent and wounded another and destroyed the two trucks, later determined to be loaded with weapons, ammunition and explosives.

A search of the area on July 1 discovered 22 deceased insurgents, including seven who wore suicide vests, as well as 24 homemade grenades, 20 pressure-plate improvised explosive devices, assault rifles and machine guns, military uniforms, suicide vests and backpacks with first aid kits. Most of the enemy dead wore white clothing with white running shoes, an outfit often associated with extremist fighters prepared to kill themselves.

As the operation progressed, U.S. troops continued a search for enemy troops or weapons caches. Extremists again attacked with machine gun fire, grenades and a suicide vest. The U.S. soldiers responded with small-arms fire and grenades, killing at least one enemy fighter. Helicopter gun ships and fighter jets provided aerial surveillance and used missiles to destroy an enemy bunker complex. Two enemy fighters were detained and taken to a military detention facility for questioning.

(Information compiled from Multinational Force Iraq and Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)

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