News: U.S. troops conduct air assault near Baqubah
By Sgt. Armando Monroig
5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
BAQUBAH, Iraq – Soldiers from Company B, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, conducted an early-morning air assault into the village of Qubbah, March 24, in support of a larger operation to clear insurgents from the Diyala River basin north of Baqubah.
Soldiers from the unit, part of 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, from Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, blocked roads leading out of the village to keep suspected insurgents from leaving the area.
"There had been a lot of...reporting indicating that this had been a safe haven for al-Qaeda elements," said 1st Lt. Eric Booth, assistant intelligence officer for the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment Reconnaissance, which led the operation. "These (insurgents) were influencing operations down in Baqubah."
After three days of searching, units participating in the operation found eight weapons caches and killed or captured 28 insurgents.
Temporary patrol bases were established by the company before searching Qubbah and the outlying palm groves for weapons caches, insurgents or information that might lead to their capture.
Once the searches were completed, the unit established a permanent patrol base that will eventually be handed over the Iraqi army as a location from which to provide security for the area.
"My goal is to identify and destroy any (insurgents) out here, and make this place safer for people, who are basically living in fear of this terror," said Staff Sgt. Randall Valenzuela, a weapons squad leader in the company.
While Valenzuela and his squad cleared palm groves and searched for terrorists, 1st Lt. Meluus Ulechong, 2nd platoon leader, spoke with residents in an attempt to gather information on insurgent activities.
"Along the way it was more of a cordon and knock—not too aggressive," he said. "We would knock, talk to the people, continue to clear, and try to make sure there were no terrorists in that part of the city."
Ulechong said operations like this one are necessary in order to bring peace, security and stability to areas like Qubbah.
"(The insurgents) have done nothing but cause trouble for the people. They do kidnappings and ransoms, and they keep them from getting work and moving (freely) through the streets," he said.
That is something that Soldiers like Ulechong hope to change.
"What we do every day, including during this operation, is pretty important because the general population says they need us. All they want is peace."
Date Posted:04.03.2007 10:05
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