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Northern Iraq Operation Nets 40 Insurgents Including Al-Qaeda Members

The operation was conducted by the Fourth Iraqi Army Division backed by US helicopters and two F-16 fighter planes, General Anwar Hama said.
by Staff Writers
Kirkuk, Iraq, March 26 (AFP) Mar 26, 2006
An Iraqi army operation backed by US forces arrested 40 suspected insurgents, including Al-Qaeda supporters, in northern Iraq, an Iraqi general said on Sunday. The operation, which lasted for three days, was carried out by the Iraqi army with air support from US forces and took place around Hawija.

General Anwar Hama told reporters that the 40 detainees included followers of Jordanian-born Al-Qaeda leader Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi as well as people with ties to the former regime.

Eight of the detainees were subsequently released.

"Operation Scorpion", as it has been dubbed, will put an end to "terrorist attacks against citizens, police forces, tribal leaders and acts of sabotage against petroleum installations," the general said.

Hawija, which is 50 kilometers west of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and traversed by pipelines carrying oil to the Mediterranean, is a stronghold for Sunni insurgents.

The operation was conducted by the Fourth Iraqi Army Division backed by US helicopters and two F-16 fighter planes, Hama said.

The general said tribes in the region had assisted them in the fight against insurgents.

In February, Hawija's tribal leaders announced they were going to take on the local insurgents, particularly those from Al-Qaeda, following a campaign of terror and intimidation waged against the tribal leaders.

In the last few months, Ibrahim al-Nouaimi of the Al-Nouaim tribe and and Ahmad Mehdi Saleh, a leader of the powerful Jubur tribe, were assassinated.

Meanwhile, US soldiers of the 101st Airborne division provided support in the form of perimeter security for the operation, according to the US military, which also praised the performance of the Iraqi soldiers in the operation.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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