Sunday, August 26, 2007

Multi-National Force - Iraq - Clearing operations in Samarra strike hard at insurgency

Sunday, 26 August 2007
By Sgt. Joshua R. Ford
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division Public Affairs

SAMARRA — Paratroopers from Company C, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, have been patrolling and operating in Samarra for more than one year and recently supported the Iraqi security forces in a clearing operation to rid the city of the al-Qaida presence terrorizing Samarra and its citizens.

The operation was dubbed “Operation Jalil” in honor of Col. Jalil Nahi Hasoun, Samarra’s former police chief, who was killed May 6, 2007, during a suicide car bomb attack.

The operation led Maj. Gen. Rashid al-Helfy, commander of Iraqi security forces in Samarra, his men, and paratroopers of Company C to the discovery of weapons caches, bomb making materials and the detainment of more than 80 suspected terrorists, including suspects responsible for the June 13, 2007, bombing of the Askirya Mosque.

The Askirya Mosque, also known as the Golden Dome Shrine, was first bombed Feb. 22, 2006, and sparked a wave of sectarian violence throughout the country. The explosion collapsed the dome.

The June 13 bombing destroyed the two remaining minarets flanking the golden dome of the mosque.

Since then, more than 2,500 Iraqi soldiers from the 4th Iraqi Army, and policemen from the 6th National Police Division, have been deployed to the city to create a stable security situation. Including Operation Jalil, Company C has detained more than 200 insurgents since the second mosque attack.

“When the Iraqi national police first arrived in Samarra, they received anything but a warm welcome,” said Capt. Buddy Ferris, commander, Company C. “The people of Samarra were very hesitant to receive the policemen.

“Now the citizens of Samarra are very receptive to the national police, and the paratroopers from Company C have seen this through the vast amount of information they receive everyday from the people in Samarra about terrorists operating in their neighborhoods,” he added.

“(The paratroopers) like to see that the Iraqis are taking the lead,” said Ferris. “We will continue to push forward the Iraqi security forces so they can provide a stable enough environment so we can start developing a legitimate government that functions and is tied in with the (Salah ad Din) province.”

The 150-paratrooper force is responsible for securing a city of more than 150,000. Two years ago the U.S. Army needed a whole brigade of more than 3,000 Soldiers to secure the city.

Since the paratroopers of Company C have been in Samarra, they have killed more than 50 terrorists and detained more than 300.

“The paratroopers of Company C have done an outstanding job in Samarra since they arrived in August 2006,” said Sgt. Tim Curry, team leader, Company C. “They always have a good attitude in wanting to help the citizens in the city.”

“(The paratroopers) have been holding the lid on the city of Samarra for a year. This company has been able to hold Samarra in one piece, so to say, and has actually been able to make progress and it speaks volumes,” said Ferris. “(The paratroopers) are tired; we are at month 13, but we know we’re making a difference.”