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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sons of Iraq turn over deadly weapons.

Long War Journal: Sons of Iraq members turn over anti-aircraft weapons

The Sons of Iraq program in southern Arab Jabour is managed by troops from 5th Squadron of the 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, the 5/7 Cav. The villagers of southern Arab Jabour, around the towns of Sayafiyah and Al Sur, were trying to start a Sons of Iraq program before Coalition forces even secured their village. The Sons of Iraq program got under way almost immediately, and has paid constant dividends, as Sons of Iraq members continue to report improvised explosive devices, al Qaeda in Iraq members, and weapons caches.

Feb. 16 was another day in a string of big days for cooperation between US troops and the Sons of Iraq. Sons of Iraq members turned over a cache that included seven heavy machine guns. As recently as January, some of these weapons were almost certainly used to shoot at American helicopters. As al Qaeda fled the area, they left most of their heavy weapons behind. Sons of Iraq are prohibited under their contract to keep or use heavy weapons, and so these were turned over to the 5/7 Cav.

Turning over weapons, as the Sons of Iraq have done, is significant. American troops have a difficult time locating caches. Most are buried, and there is a lot of dirt to cover and few men. The Sons of Iraq would have had no trouble hiding weapons and storing them against the eventual departure of Coalition forces, to use against whoever tried to take their land.

Other news:
Coalition forces capture Iranian-backed Special Groups facilitator, detain seven suspects (Suwayrah)

Coalition forces captured a suspected Iranian-backed Special Groups finance facilitator and detained six other suspected criminals early Sunday in the Suwayrah area, south of Baghdad.

The targeted individual was reportedly a finance leader for Iranian-affiliated Special Groups criminals and militias in Iraq’s southern provinces to include Najaf, Karbala, Babil, Wasit and Qadisiyah. He was also allegedly a mortar and rocket specialist who had trained in Iran. Reports indicate he was an associate of several other senior-level Special Groups criminal element leaders involved in attacks on Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition forces.

Intelligence led ground forces to the target area where they captured the wanted individual and the six other suspected criminals without incident. During the operation, Coalition forces also discovered large amounts of American currency.

“There has been substantial progress in the fight for a stable Iraq, but there is still much work to be done,” said Navy Capt. Vic Beck, MNF-I spokesman. “We welcome al-Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr’s extended cease fire pledge, and we will work with those who honor it to ensure security in their neighborhoods.”