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FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARHORSE, Iraq — Eight operations carried out in the Iraqi province of Diyala in the last week by U.S. and Iraqi forces resulted in the deaths of 33 members of al-Qaida, with at least 14 others being detained, military officials said on Saturday.

The missions, divided between two battalion-level operations and six company-level assignments, also uncovered eight weapons-storage sites, safely detonated five roadside bombs and destroyed two homes rigged with explosives.

The operations come in the wake of June and July’s Operation Arrowhead Ripper, which drove hundreds to thousands of insurgents from the provincial capital, Baqouba, and sent U.S. and Iraqi security forces fanning out north and east of the city with an objective to capture or kill rebels, officials said.

“Arrowhead Ripper is not the end — it is the beginning,” Col. David Sutherland, commander of U.S. forces in Diyala, told Stars and Stripes. “Al-Qaida thought that we owned the roads and they owned everything else, but they own nothing, except our contempt and disdain.”

The battalion-level operations, dubbed Hoplite and William Wallace, were initiated on Aug. 4 and 8, respectively, in the areas of Had Maksar and Abu Tinah. Had Maksar is six miles north of Baqouba, while Abu Tinah rests roughly 12 miles east of the provincial capital.

“We developed a detailed plan in conjunction with some of the local leadership, which provided the ability to isolate, kill and capture the al-Qaida elements who began to seek shelter and safe haven in the villages,” Lt. Col. Andrew Poppas said.

He commands the 5th Battalion, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, which is an 82nd Airborne Division unit attached to the 1st Cavalry’s 3rd Brigade.

Hoplite resulted in five members of al-Qaida being killed, with 10 more being arrested. Operation William Wallace netted two more kills and four detainees.

The combined company-level assaults, carried out jointly with members of Iraq’s 5th Army Division, killed 26 more al-Qaida members, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials.

Operations Caddo, Apache Thunder and Bronco were initiated Aug. 6, 10 and 11, respectively, throughout the Diyala River Valley in between Baqouba to Muqdadiyah, 25 miles northeast of the provincial capital.

These and the other three missions, which are still ongoing, were carried out by members of the 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment — a 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division outfit — and U.S. Special Forces.

Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, top U.S. leader in Iraq’s north, recently announced coalition forces had entered a hold phase following the Arrowhead Ripper operation, with an objective to keep insurgent forces off balance.

Units under Sutherland’s command have carried out a total of 209 operations since coming into the region more than 10 months ago.


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