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American and Iraqi troops are claiming victory over an insurgent group in Diyala province known as “The Council,” saying the group was largely dismantled after a nine-day operation northeast of Baghdad.

According to military officials, the group was responsible for murders, kidnappings and politically motivated violence.

“During the operation, which began Jan. 4 with a combined air and ground assault, soldiers unearthed numerous weapons caches and killed approximately 100 terrorists throughout the Turki Village area,” a U.S. military news release issued Thursday read.

American troops from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division and Iraqi troops from the 1st Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army participated in the operation. Special Operations Forces and the U.S. Air Force also contributed.

“The [Council], made up of former Ba’ath Regime members, Al-Qaida and Sunni extremists, refused to participate in any political dialogue and preferred attacking innocent civilians in the Diyala province, killing as many as 39 civilians in one kidnapping and mass murder in November,” Col. David W. Sutherland, 3rd Brigade commander, was quoted as saying.

More than 50 suspected members of the group were arrested, military officials said.

U.S. military officials say they are keeping American and Iraqi troops in the area to ensure that civil-military projects can be completed. Iraqi troops will maintain a permanent base, officials said, while American troops will focus on reconstruction of roads and infrastructure.

Several weapons caches were seized, including more than 1,150 Katyusha rockets; 1,000 rocket-propelled grenades; 170 anti-tank missiles; anti-tank mines; and small-arms rounds.

In the long term, Sutherland said, the goals of the operation are “stability for economic growth, increased political action for all parties and self-reliance for the Iraqi government and security forces.”


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