WASHINGTON– Coalition and Iraqi forces continue their relentless assault on al-Qaida in Iraq and “special groups” criminals with targeted raids that get these terrorists off the streets.

Even as violence trends downward – Iraq has the fewest violent incidents since early 2004 – coalition and Iraqi forces are keeping the pressure on insurgent groups. Operations this weekend targeted terrorists in the north and around Baghdad.

In the north, coalition and Iraqi forces detained 12 suspected al-Qaida terrorists in five coordinated operations in Mosul and nearby Al Qasr. Forces zeroed in on al-Qaida car bomb networks yesterday, targeting a wanted man believed to plan and execute multiple attacks against Iraqi citizens and coalition forces. Five others associated with the man were also captured during the raids.

An operation 80 kilometers southeast of Kirkuk resulted in detention of two suspects affiliated with al-Qaida. The operation was targeting a wanted man who intelligence reports suggest is an al-Qaida operative. The man is also wanted for involvement in gathering operations used to plan attacks against Iraqi security and coalition forces in the area.

Acting on tips from detainees, coalition forces targeted senior al-Qaida in Iraq leadership networks in Bayji Saturday. Three suspects were apprehended during the operation.

Coalition forces also detained two suspected terrorists during a raid on Saturday 116 km northeast of Baghdad. The detainees are believed to be associated with regional al-Qaida leaders in Northern Diyala.

Iraqi Army soldiers captured a suspected al-Qaida member Sept. 25 in Tarmiyah. The suspect is an alleged explosives expert and is believed to have plotted several kidnappings, murders and indirect fire attacks in Taji and Tarmiyah and their surrounding areas northwest of Baghdad.

Al-Qaida’s car bomb and financial networks were further debilitated by the capture of seven suspected terrorists during coalition operations Saturday and Sunday.

An operation in Baghdad Saturday netted one man believed to be a key player in al-Qaida’s car bomb. Another suspect was also detained during the operation.

Coalition forces, acting on a tip, targeted another man alleged to be one of al-Qaida’s bookkeepers in eastern Mosul early Sunday. When forces arrived at the location, the man was taken into custody without incident. The detained man – al-Qaida’s paymaster – led coalition forces to a second location where they arrested four more men believed to be his associates.

Iranian-backed groups also fared badly this weekend. Coalition forces apprehended five members of the Kataib Hezbollah network Saturday morning in new Baghdad.

In an intelligence-driven raid, coalition forces targeted suspected criminals linked to recent rocket attacks against Iraqi security and coalition forces.

Coalition members captured the five suspects in three separate locations without incident.

Coalition forces also apprehended three more suspected members of the Kataib Hezbollah network early Sunday in Naharwan, about 25 km east of Baghdad.

Acting on intelligence information, coalition forces targeted a suspect who has been linked to Kataib Hezbollah operations in and around Baghdad.

Coalition forces entered the suspect’s location, where he was identified to be the wanted man. The alleged criminal and two of his associates were detained without incident.

Coalition forces have captured more than 30 Kataib Hezbollah criminals in the last two months.

Officials said Kata’ib Hezbollah is a proxy of Iran, and its members are believed to employ improvised rocket assisted mortars as well as explosively formed penetrators in civilian areas.

All security forces in Iraq combined to get weapons off the streets this weekend.

U.S. soldiers with Multinational Division Baghdad found a weapons cache in the Adhamiyah district of Baghdad. The munitions consisted of nine AK-47 rifles, six grenades, two cans of blasting caps, two Iraqi Police uniforms, 10 digital cameras and a VHS camcorder.

Later Iraqi policemen found a cache in the West Rashid District of Baghdad. The munitions included 10 60 mm mortar rounds, six Iranian-manufactured 81 mm mortar rounds, nine 82 mm mortar rounds, a white phosphorous 82 mm mortar round, a 120 mm mortar round, a 100 mm high-explosive projectile, 13 85 mm rounds, two Iranian-manufactured anti-tank rounds, an Iranian manufactured AT-1 PG-7, eight expelling charges, three hand grenades, a Mills bomb, propellant for the PG-7, an improvised grenade, a 6-inch long improvised-explosive device filled with approximately 1.5 pounds of explosives, a roadside bomb encased in foam consisting of two 82 mm mortar rounds, a 57 mm projectile and a bottle of homemade explosives.

A tip from a local citizen pointed U.S. soldiers to six 107 mm rounds in a canal northwest of Baghdad.

Finally, Iraqi Army soldiers northwest of Baghdad found what appeared to be five jugs of nitrogen and called for an assessment. An explosive ordnance disposal team identified the materials as four five-gallon jugs of diesel fuel and a five gallon jug of sugar, which were likely to be used as a bomb.

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