WASHINGTON, Feb. 12, 2008 – Coalition and Iraqi forces killed two suspected terrorists, nabbed 11 and uncovered weapons caches in Iraq over the past three days, military officials reported.

Coalition forces captured two suspected members of Iranian-trained and -funded “special groups” south of Baghdad early today.

During the operation, troops in the Suwayrah area of the Iraqi capital were searching for a man suspected of organizing paramilitary training for special groups members targeting Iraqi and coalition forces. Reports also indicate he was linked to several senior-level criminal leaders involved in previous strikes on combined forces.

Using credible intelligence, ground forces reached the target location, where they detained the two suspected criminals without incident. The suspects’ identities are undetermined so far, military officials said.

Since Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr pledged in August to suspend offensive operations against coalition forces and Iraqi citizens, military officials have recognized a decline in the number of attacks carried out by special groups members and other insurgents. But some of Sadr’s followers, officials say, continue to betray the cleric’s commitment.

“Muqtada al-Sadr’s cease-fire pledge has helped increase stability,” said Navy Lt. Michael Street, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman. “We welcome that stability, but we will continue to dismantle the criminal networks of those who choose not to honor that pledge.”

Southwest of Samarra today, coalition forces captured a suspect who allegedly deals improvised explosive devices — deadly homemade bombs — and other weapons on behalf of al Qaeda in Iraq. Military officials believe the suspect also is connected to a local car-bomb factory and several nearby weapons caches.

Reports indicate the suspect is associated with al Qaeda members involved in car-bomb networks, including individuals nabbed last fall for their alleged roles in terrorist attacks and foreign-fighter smuggling.

Troops detained an additional suspected terrorist in the operation, military officials said.

“Iraqi and coalition forces are committed to ending the terror al Qaeda in Iraq has brought,” said Army Maj. Winfield Danielson, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman. “Al Qaeda’s war on innocent Iraqi civilians is the result of a twisted and morally bankrupt philosophy that runs contrary to the values of Iraqi citizens. These terrorists are unwelcome in Iraq.”

In Iraq yesterday:

— Two terrorists armed with suicide vests engaged coalition forces with gunfire northeast of Samarra. Ground forces responded, killing the two. Troops also discovered two AK-47 assault rifles.

— Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers detained five suspected terrorists in southern Ghazaliyah. The suspects, believed to be a part of a local IED network, were taken to a coalition forces detention facility for further questioning. The arrests were part of Operation Phantom Phoenix, a countrywide division- and brigade-level strike against al Qaeda and other extremists launched in December.

— Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers captured a suspected special groups cell leader in the Rashid district of the Iraqi capital. Military officials believe the suspect has been involved in attacks against coalition and Iraqi forces involving IEDs, explosively formed penetrators, and small-arms and rocket fire. The arrest came a day after soldiers nabbed a suspected special groups leader in the western Baghdad neighborhood of Hurriya.

In Baghdad yesterday, Iraqi security forces found a house rigged with at least 11 IEDs. The house, located in the Rusafa security district of eastern Baghdad, was armed with 10 IEDs in the courtyard and one at the front door. An explosive ordnance team conducted an explosive breach before investigating further. The team found two doors booby trapped with wire, and discovered an anti-tank mine and three 57 mm rockets.

A military official on the scene said the explosives were rigged to target coalition forces entering the house. Neither Iraqi nor coalition forces suffered casualties in the operation.

Discovery of the booby-trapped house came on the heels of two coalition operations Feb. 10, when troops recovered and disposed of weapons caches across Baghdad.

Soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division’s Company B, 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, found four IEDs and a munitions cache in the Arab Jabour section of the Iraqi capital.

Meanwhile, soldiers from the 3rd ID’s Troop C, 5th Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, found three weapons stockpiles in the Sayifiyah area. The cache contained various munitions, assault rifles, bomb-making material and al Qaeda in Iraq propaganda, military officials said.

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