Iraqi Special Operations Forces, the Hillah Special Weapons and Tactics team and the Baghdad National Emergency Response Unit are playing key roles in the Government of Iraqâ€™s massive campaign to disrupt the criminal elements in the city of Amarah.
With the cooperation of tribal leaders and many of the local citizens, Iraqi Security Forces began setting the foundation to enforce the rule of lawinthe city June 19. ISOF, Hillah SWAT and the Baghdad National ERU conducted several precision operations throughout the city targeting Special Groups criminals and abettors.
According to Iraqi Brig. Gen. Noaâ€™amam Dakeel Jawad, the Iraqi National ERU commander, ISOF and ISF will continue to conduct operations in the area until the citizens of Amarah are safe and free from the criminals in their city.
â€œThe ERU, ISOF and Hillah SWAT have all played a large role on missions of high importance,â€ he said. â€œThings have been successful and will continue to be.â€
In the past several days, Jawad and his men, along with Hillah SWAT and ISOF, have detained more than 20 individuals on warrants issued by the Ministry of Interior.
The past weeksâ€™ clearing efforts have allowed the Iraqi government to take control of Amarah and work to establish a lasting presence for security and stability. Many Special Groups criminals, particularly the top-level criminals, fled the area to avoid capture.
â€œSo far, there has been little to no retaliation and no innocent [people] have been hurt,â€ said an ISOF sergeant.
While most of the criminals fled in fear since their operations began, Jawad and his men are still making detainments, finding evidence of criminal activity and recovering criminalsâ€™ weapons caches.
In one particular mission, the ERU searched a downtown building believed to be the headquarters for Special Groups. In addition to discovering an apparent torture room containing what were identified as interrogation tools and a large number of anti-Coalition propaganda, they found a large weapons cache consisting of explosively formed projectiles, more than 100 rounds of assorted ammunition, home-made bombs, wire and anti-tank rounds, along with information on methods of attacking Coalition forcesâ€™ convoys.
Other successful operations included the detainment of a man reported to be the leader of a criminal cell specializing in sectarian killings and a financier for the organization. The ERU has also detained an Iraqi Police chief who is suspected of being a Special Groups criminal leader, facilitator and financier who has great influence over the IP in the area, as well as a police officer wanted for his involvement with sectarian killings.
According to a local sheikh, Amarah is used as a shipment point for all of the provinces in Iraq and a â€œwarehouseâ€ for weapons and wanted criminals traveling back and forth from Iraq and Iran.
In-depth searches for hidden weapons caches in Amarah by Iraqi Forces yielded approximately seven sites. Estimated finds by ISOF, SWAT, and ERU include roughly 180 lbs. of explosive compounds, 600 anti-tank mines, 280 rocket propelled grenades, 200 various EFP-making materials, more than 1,000 assorted rounds of ammunition, 320 mortar rounds, explosive-making materials and various weapons including more than 80 pieces of sniper equipment.
Citizens are counting on the GoI to continue seizing illegal weapons and weeding out the corrupt officials and criminal elements from their city.
Jawad believes the GoI will be successful and will ultimately turn Amarah into a peaceful community and a better place for its citizens.
When the clearing operations are complete, there will be more opportunities for work, and the youth will be more apt to join the Iraqi Security Forces, said Jawad. With criminals gone, people will prosper from a stimulated economy and improved safety and security.
â€œI would like all the bad people brought to justice,â€ said Jawad. â€œEveryone should be held accountable. The law should be forced on everyone to guarantee the success of the mission for Amarah and all of Iraq.â€