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Operation Phantom Thunder Update

4:11 PM, Jun 28, 2007 • By BILL ROGGIO
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Baghdad and the Belts. Red bordered units identified as active in offensive operations. Click map to view.

Iraqi and Coalition forces continue to maintain the pressure against al Qaeda, Sunni insurgents, and the "rogue," Iranian backed "secret cells" of the Mahdi Army and the Qazali network. Operation Phantom Thunder is underway inside Baghdad and the Belts, as well as against al Qaeda's network nationwide. Also, the northwestern region of Iraq has been a focus of U.S. and Iraqi operations. The simultaneous operations to pressure al Qaeda's network are occurring in all theaters throughout Iraq. An update on each theater is provided below.

Coalition forces continue to strike at al Qaeda's leadership cells. Multinational Forces Iraq confirmed http://www.mnf-iraq.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=12572&... target=_blank>two senior al Qaeda operatives were killed on June 23. "Mehmet Yilmaz, also known as Khalid al-Turki, was a known terrorist and senior leader in al-Qaeda who operated a cell that facilitated the movement of foreign fighters into Iraq for al-Qaeda operations," Multinational Forces Iraq reported. Yilmaz was a global terrorist, with roots back to Pakistan. "Yilmaz was an al-Qaeda leader who led a group of Turks to Afghanistan in 2001 to fight against Coalition Forces. Intelligence reports indicate he was wounded in the fighting there and went to Pakistan for treatment, where he was captured by the government in 2004 and deported to Turkey. He was released in late 2005 and returned to al-Qaeda operations in 2006, moving his operations to Iraq."

Coalition forces also killed Mehmet Resit Isik, also known as Khalil al-Turki. Isik was "a close associate of Yilmaz who was assessed to be a courier for the same al-Qaeda cell and a close associate of Yilmaz and senior leaders within al-Qaeda."

Two al Qaeda operatives were killed and two captured in raids on Tuesday in Bayji, Mosul, and Baghdad. Wednesday's raids in Mosul and Baghdad resulted in http://www.mnf-iraq.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=12584&... target=_blank>six al Qaeda operatives captured. One of those captured in Mosul "is believed to have replaced the al-Qaeda emir of east Mosul after his capture May 31." Al Qaeda's Mosul network has become a focus of Coalition efforts of late. The network has regenerated since Ansar al-Sunnah merged with al Qaeda this spring.

Diyala

Eleven days after Operation Arrowhead Ripper kicked off in the provincial capital of Baqubah, Coalition and Iraqi forces have been conducting operations throughout the province. In Baqubah, "at least 60 al-Qaida operatives have been killed, 74 have been detained, 31 weapons caches have been discovered, 81 improvised explosive devices have been destroyed and 18 booby-trapped structures have been destroyed," since the start of Arrowhead Ripper, Multinational Forces Iraq reported.

Coalition and Iraqi forces have also distributed "approximately 265,000 pounds of rice and flour ... handed out over 10,000 vegetarian humanitarian rations, and thousands of bottles of water." An al Qaeda warehouse "filled with food seized by al-Qaeda from Government of Iraq food shipments to the city" was found by Iraqi troops in the Khatoon neighborhood.