Operations stepped up in Iraq to find Zarqawi. 07/03/2005. ABC News Online
Iraqi commandos and United States soldiers have stepped up operations in Samarra, north of Baghdad, in search for top wanted militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a senior Iraqi security official said.
”We have information that Zarqawi may be hiding in Samarra or this region and this operation is aimed at checking that out,” the officer said on condition of anonymity.
The official said 66 suspects have been arrested in the operation, which is expected to last a week with the goal of rounding up 250 wanted suspects working for seven armed groups in the area.
On the ground all entrances leading to Samarra were sealed as Iraqi and US forces conducted their searches.
No vehicles were allowed to circulate inside the city where most businesses, schools and government institutions were closed for a second day.
The US military confirmed the operation.
“Elements of the Iraqi Ministry of Interiors 1st Commando Brigade began operations to kill or capture insurgent elements in the city of Samarra this weekend,” said Major Richard Goldenberg of the 42nd Infantry Division, adding that US soldiers are providing a supporting role.
He said the operation was based on Iraqi intelligence.
One Iraqi soldier was killed and five wounded when their patrol was attacked by gunmen overnight east of Samarra, said Captain Ahmed Sadad of the Iraqi army.
Four other soldiers were wounded in a roadside bomb in the Al-Duluiyah area, south of Samarra, said police and medical sources.