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Mideast edition, Tuesday, August 14, 2007

American and Iraqi troops arrested 22 suspected insurgents during a weekend mission seeking information on two American soldiers who have been missing since May 12.

Dubbed “Operation Polar Schism,” the air assault involved troops from the two soldiers’ unit — the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division — and Iraqi troops of the 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division. The mission was looking for information about Spc. Alex Jimenez and Pvt. Bryan Fouty, who were captured just over three months ago south of Baghdad.

The operation this weekend involved flying troops by “helicopter across the Euphrates River to track down a well-known terrorist cell leader,” according to a U.S. military news release issued Monday.

“Iraqi Army soldiers entered the mosque where Coalition Forces suspected the cell leader was hiding. Coalition Forces secured the area outside the building, while Iraqi Forces entered the mosque. They detained 22 suspected terrorists, including four that had fired upon them as they entered the area.”

The raid was part of ongoing efforts to get information about the fate of Jimenez, 25, and Fouty, 19.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Fouty’s family and friends gathered Sunday at a religious service in Oakland County, Mich., to mark three months since the attack in which he was captured and four other soldiers were killed.

Jimenez’s family also held a service on Sunday in Lawrence, Mass. After the Mass, nearly a thousand people formed a procession carrying images of the Virgin Mary.

“I feel [Alex] is alive,” his younger brother, Bryant, told the Eagle-Tribune newspaper. “I always think of him, of what he’s doing. I’m anxious to see him and tell him that I love him.”

Military officials have said the search will continue until some resolution is found.

“The unit will continue to search for information pertaining to the missing soldiers,” the military release on Monday concluded.

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