MNF-I spokesman makes statement on Ishaqi raid
Maj. Gen. Bill Caldwell, Multi-National Force - Iraq spokesman, delivered the following statement June 3 on the Coalition raid that took place near Ishaqi March 15:
"Recently there has been much attention in both the Western and Arabic media concerning reports of Coalition Soldiers killing innocent Iraqi civilians. Temptation exists to lump all these incidents together. However, each case needs to be examined individually. Let me be clear. Multi-National Force - Iraq does not and will not tolerate unethical or criminal behavior. All allegations of the loss of civilian life are thoroughly investigated.
"In response to claims as many as thirteen civilians were killed in a March 15th air strike in the vicinity of Ishaqi, south of Samarra , an investigation was launched into the incident the very next day. The investigation revealed the ground force commander, while capturing and killing terrorists, operated in accordance with the rules of engagement governing our combat forces in Iraq .
"Based on credible intelligence, Coalition forces conducted a raid in the vicinity of Ishaqi on March 15th capturing Ahmad Abdallah Muhammad Na'is al-Utaybi, aka Hamza, a Kuwaiti-born, al-Qaida cell leader, and killing Uday Faris al-Tawafi, aka Abu Ahmed, an Iraqi involved in making improvised explosive devices as well as recruiting locals to join the insurgency.
"The forces, upon arrival, began taking direct fire from the building. As the enemy fire persisted, the ground force commander appropriately reacted by incrementally escalating the use of force from small arms fire to rotary wing aviation, and then to close air support, ultimately eliminating the threat.
"The troops then conducted a thorough tactical search, and documented the discovery of the body of Abu Ahmed plus three noncombatants. The investigating officer concluded that possibly up to nine collateral deaths resulted from this engagement but could not determine the precise number due to collapsed walls and heavy debris. Allegations that the troops executed a family living in this safe house, and then hid the alleged crimes by directing an air strike, are absolutely false.
"The investigating officer ascertained that the ground force commander properly followed the rules of engagement as he necessarily escalated the use of force until the threat was eliminated.
"All loss of innocent life is tragic and unfortunate, and we regret such occurrences. We take all reports of improper conduct seriously; we investigate them thoroughly, and hold our troops accountable for their actions."
Iraqi Security Forces take greater role
As the Ishaqi investigation concluded, several successful operations this week reinforced statements from senior Coalition leaders that Iraqi security forces are taking a greater role in the security of Iraq.
Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, and Iraqi policemen seized weapons from inside a mosque in the Adhamiyah section of Baghdad at approximately noon May 31.
The Soldiers and police surrounded the Mohammed Rasool mosque after receiving small-arms fire from terrorists holed up inside the mosque. After the Iraqi Ministry of Defense granted permission to enter the mosque, the Iraqi Soldiers and police entered and cleared the mosque.
No terrorists were found during the search of the mosque, but abandoned weapons seized inside the mosque included 11 AK-47s, two rocket-propelled grenade launchers, three rocket-propelled rounds, a motorcycle and bomb-making materials.
During his weekly press briefing June 1, Caldwell said during the past week, Coalition forces only conducted 8 percent of the operations independently.
"This is a positive trend that we hope to continue seeing as more Iraqi security forces come on line, being trained and ready to assume responsibility in their country," said the general.
Source: Multi-National Force-Iraq
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