WASHINGTON, May 13, 2008 – Coalition and Iraqi forces expanded their operations about 70 kilometers north of Basra, Iraq, into Qurnah today, as the Iraqi army continues to develop its capabilities for tactical maneuvers over long distances. Operation “Charge of Knights,” which began in March in Basra, launched in Qurnah with a drop of 100,000 leaflets over the small village encouraging residents’ cooperation. The operation involves Iraqi security forces operating with coalition air and ground support. United Kingdom and U.S. military transition teams are embedded with their Iraqi counterparts.

In other operations in Iraq today:

— Coalition forces captured a wanted man in Tikrit, about 100 miles north of Baghdad, suspected of being involved with helping foreign terrorists and other terrorist activities.

— Five other suspects were caught further north in Beiji, and near the Hamrin Mountains north of Baghdad, forces caught five suspects while targeting al-Qaida in Iraq operatives in Diyala province.

— Two men suspected of housing senior al-Qaida leaders in the country were caught in Mosul.

In operations in Iraq yesterday, U.S. soldiers killed three enemy fighters and recovered a weapons cache. Forces killed two men after they exploded a homemade bomb in northwestern Baghdad, and killed another man after he emplaced a bomb in New Baghdad. In separate operations, soldiers in West Rashid recovered a weapons cache consisting of five homemade bombs and two explosively formed projectiles, bombs designed to pierce armored vehicles.

Also yesterday:

— In Mosul, coalition forces caught four suspects thought to be connected to the city’s al-Qaida in Iraq network.

— Also in Mosul, forces recovered four weapon caches and detained seven suspects. The caches held more than a dozen pipe bombs, improvised explosive devices, mortar rounds and fuses, several circuit boards, more than 200 pounds of explosives, detonators, several blasting caps, fuses and a timer.

— Soldiers recovered several large weapons caches across Baghdad. In eastern Rashid, forces found 54 82 mm mortar rounds and 27 60 mm mortar rounds, and another cache that held seven rocket-propelled-grenade rounds, a light machine gun and assorted ammunition. In the Mansour district, a cache held five grenades and fuses, three pounds of dynamite, three rocket motors, an AK-47, a 9 mm sub-machine gun and bomb-making materials. In Adhamiyah, a cache was found that held two 57 mm rockets, two 60 mm mortars and a 122 mm illumination round.

— Forces captured a wanted man during an operation in Karmah, about 30 miles west of Baghdad. He is believed to be tied to attacks against coalition forces.

— In Arab Jabour, about 5 kilometers southeast of Baghdad, coalition forces destroyed a known al-Qaida in Iraq weapons cache and staging site. The area was known to have been used for manufacturing bombs, stashing weapons caches, training, and launching sniper attacks at coalition force convoys. The area was rigged with pressure-plate bombs and bombs hidden in palm trees. Two U.S. Air Force F-16s dropped eight 500-pound bombs on the area.

In operations in southern Baghdad on May 11:

— Soldiers seized two rocket-propelled grenades, a hand grenade and a high-explosive anti-tank round while conducting a combat patrol in the Amil neighborhood.

— Soldiers caught six suspected criminals in the Risalah neighborhood.

— A local citizen led soldiers to a cache in Shakariya, about 24 kilometers southwest of Baghdad. The cache held 50 rocket fuses, ammunition, an anti-tank grenade, three pressure plates, a bag of homemade explosives and various trigger components.

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