WASHINGTON -- Multi-National Force operations netted 109 terrorists and suspects throughout Iraq today and May 7, and included finding large weapons caches.
In simultaneous operations conducted early today north of the town of Al Qaim, 54 terrorists within the circle of known terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi were captured or killed, according to Multi-National Force Iraq officials. Coalition forces also destroyed car bombs, bomb-making material and two buildings that contained large weapons caches to include hand- and rocket-propelled grenades.
Multiple sources of intelligence indicate that terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's key lieutenants, suicide bombers and a large population of foreign fighters are located in the region in and around Al Qaim, near the Syrian border.
In recent months, terrorists operating in this unstable region attacked Iraqis and coalition forces, established safe houses and helped move foreign fighters, weapons and money from Syria into Iraq.
In other action May 7, Task Force Baghdad raids snared 38 terror suspects in the Baghdad area, including two high-value targets in a series of early morning raids May 7.
The raids included getting 29 suspected terrorists in the largest strike of the day in south Baghdad. And a separate operation detained five more suspected terrorists, one thought to be the leader of a terror cell in southwest Baghdad. There, troops also found 1,000 rounds of assault-rifle ammunition in a burlap bag covered with mud.
In addition, U.S. soldiers on patrol in east Baghdad also found another weapons cache containing two mortar rounds and 10 rocket-propelled grenades.
In Babil province May 7, Multi-National Division Central South forces detained 17 terror suspects during cordon-and-search operations. Iraqi, Polish, Salvadoran and U.S. troops conducted the combined operation in an area of Al Mashru, capturing anti-Iraqi and anti-coalition forces, illegal weapons and ammunition.
Elsewhere, Marines and soldiers of Multi-National Force West recently discovered and destroyed hundreds of weapons and tons of ammunition found in 13 hidden caches near Al Amiriyah in Anbar province. The find was the largest in recent months in western Iraq.
Marines of 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division and Soldiers of the 155th Brigade Combat Team unearthed a series of caches April 27 while they were conducting cordon-and-search operations. The caches took nearly a week to uncover, catalog and destroy.
The caches contained significant numbers of weapons and explosives that could be used in attacks on Iraqi citizens, Iraqi security forces and coalition forces. Items included more than 4,100 mortar rounds, more than 800 rocket-propelled grenade rounds, more than 100,000 rounds of machine-gun ammunition, more than 400 grenades, and several thousand pounds of different types of explosives and bomb-making material.
Some materials were buried, while others were in underground bunkers. Most of the weapons and ammunition were in good condition and ready for use.