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Looking over a haul of weaons and other items seized during pre-Christmas raids in Baghdad, Iraq, is Sgt. Maj. Robert Cormier, operations sergeant major, for 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment. Elements of the 1st Armored Division carried out 13 separate operations, all part of a larger effort dubbed Iron Grip and aimed at blunting the guerrilla insurgency.

Looking over a haul of weaons and other items seized during pre-Christmas raids in Baghdad, Iraq, is Sgt. Maj. Robert Cormier, operations sergeant major, for 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment. Elements of the 1st Armored Division carried out 13 separate operations, all part of a larger effort dubbed Iron Grip and aimed at blunting the guerrilla insurgency. (Franklin Fisher / S&S)

BAGHDAD, Iraq — U.S. forces are reporting a major success in their latest operation to blunt the guerrilla insurgency in the Iraqi capital.

As part of Operation Iron Grip, U.S. forces carried out a large-scale series of raids in the period from Tuesday night through Christmas Eve night. At one point, the troops carried out 13 separate operations — the most conducted in a single night in Baghdad since the war began, according to the coalition.

The raids, carried out by the 1st Armored Division and units working with it, netted 66 prisoners, including 21 of “significant status” and quantities of weapons, explosive-making materials and other military items.

The 21 “significant” prisoners include a former Iraqi major general with links to Saddam Hussein, as well as individuals with ties to a large terrorist organization, the coalition said.

Also captured were “known bomb-makers,” cell leaders, senior planners for the former Saddam regime and several Fedayeen militia from a cell operating in Baghdad.

Weapons seized included 60 122 mm rockets; 40 rifles, 34 of them AK-47s; three shotguns; 11 pistols; and large quantities of materials for making homemade explosive devices, according to the coalition.

Meanwhile, the coalition on Friday said it captured five men suspected of firing rockets at the Coalition Provisional Authority headquarters compound on Christmas night.

Two rockets hit an unpopulated area near the headquarters around 11:15 p.m. There were no injuries and no damage to property or equipment, the coalition said.

Capt. Marcus Wildy, 32, of Charleston, S.C., is commander of Company A, 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, one of the 1st Armored Division units that carried out the house-to-house searches the night of Christmas Eve and early Christmas Day.

Among items his company seized were artillery shell casings in which were found wiring devices that could be used in making roadside bombs, a weapon that has killed or wounded numerous coalition troops during the Iraq conflict.

“They’ll set it on the side of the road, set those timers,” said Wildy. “Sometimes, fortunately, those timers will go off prematurely,” he said. But at other times the insurgents are “successful.”

Also found during the battalion’s searches were an SKS rifle with an adaptor that allows launching of grenades “which makes them [the insurgents] extremely mobile,” Wildy said. “Just fire those grenades and haul butt out of there. We got some people off the street that shouldn’t be on the street.”

In all, the battalion seized 24 detainees, and, among other items, 23 rifles, three pistols, a machine gun, three shotguns, three kits for making homemade bombs, three artillery shell casings, and quantities of ammunition and cash.

Spc. David Alexander, 24, of Brooklyn, N.Y., who worked as a Company A radio operator the night of the raids, was struck by how many illegal items the troops found in a single block.

“It’s just strange that we found all of these things on one street,” said Alexander.

“When you find this stuff, you’re sort of like, ‘OK, we’re finding this stuff and this was a worthwhile mission.’ It could be stuff that could be used to kill your buddy two weeks down the line.”

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