A combined force of more than 300 Iraqi Army, Iraqi Police and Iraqi Special Weapons and Tactics personnel, advised by U.S. Special Operations Forces, arrested 40 criminal militia members after coming under attack in Suq Ash Shuyukh, southeast of Nasiriyah, Iraq, April 19.
Forty criminal militia members were killed during the armed confrontation with ISF, including the groupâ€™s top two leaders. Twelve ISF members were reported wounded.
Using assault rifles and automatic weapons, the criminal militia attacked Iraqi Security Forces on the morning of April 19. Regional police and Army forces on alert in the area responded in force, overwhelming the outnumbered criminal militia fighters.
Facing a combination of armored vehicles and suppressive fire, the criminals retreated to building that contained the local Sadr Trend office.
With ISWAT providing support, additional security forces launched a counter attack, overrunning the remaining enemy defenses. The ISF entered the building and cleared it of the remaining criminals.
During the sweep of the building, ISF found a large weapons cache containing explosively formed penetrators, Katyusha rockets, rocket propelled grenade launchers and a large quantity of additional weapons and ammunition. An explosive ordnance disposal team also found several improvised explosive devices rigged to explode inside the building. All weapons were destroyed on site.
Many local Iraqis witnessed the fighting and thanked the ISF for their bravery and willingness to defend their town.
â€œThe response of the combined ISF force represented an incredible leap forward by Iraqi Police and Iraqi Army to conduct joint operations,â€ said a U.S. Special Operations Forces advisor. â€œIraqi police and Iraqi Army executed a counter attack against a determined enemy and quickly gained control of the situation.â€
The operation was part of the Iraqi governmentâ€™s continuing fight against terrorists, insurgents and criminals standing in the way of a safe and secure Iraq. In recent months, ISF personnel have assumed greater autonomy to plan and conduct these types of operations unilaterally or with Coalition forces.
Information indicated the criminal group used the city as part of its smuggling network to move improvised explosive devices, including armor-piercing explosively formed penetrators, throughout the region.