Just nine days before al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi released his latest video, a special operations raid killed five of his men, captured five others and apparently came within a couple of city blocks of nabbing Zarqawi himself.
Then, the day Zarqawi’s video debuted, special ops forces killed 12 more of his troops in a second raid in the same town.
The raids in Yusufiyah, 20 miles southwest of Baghdad in the heart of the Sunni Triangle, were the latest battles in a small, vicious war being waged largely in the shadows of the wider counterinsurgency effort.
It is a war fought by a secretive organization called Task Force 145, made up of some of the most elite U.S. troops, including Delta Force and SEAL Team 6. They have one goal: hunting down Zarqawi, Iraq�s most wanted man, and destroying his al-Qaida in Iraq organization.
Zarqawi’s escape in Yusufiyah was not the first time special ops troops have nearly had him. In early 2005, they came so close they could see the Jordanian’s panicked face as he fled.
The first of the two Yusufiyah raids began at 2:15 a.m. April 16 when SEAL Team 6 operators and Army Rangers approached a terrorist safe house, a U.S. special operations source said.
A U.S. Central Command news release said coalition forces–the usual shorthand for Task Force 145 elements–were searching for a wanted al-Qaida associate.
When the U.S. troops arrived, the enemy opened fire with small arms. In the fight that followed, the special ops troops killed five terrorists, three of whom wore suicide belts, according to Central Command. Two of the suicide bombers were killed before either could detonate his vest, and the third detonated his body bomb, killing only himself and injuring no one else, the news release said.
A woman in the house also was killed. Three other women and a child were wounded and were medically evacuated to the 10th Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad.
U.S. forces detained five other occupants, one of whom was wounded. One of the five was later confirmed as the wanted al-Qaida terrorist for whom the troops were searching, according to Central Command.
The terrorist, whose name is currently being withheld, was involved in the planning and execution of improvised explosive device attacks and allegedly was associated with al-Qaida foreign fighter operations, the command said. The other four suspects are being assessed for knowledge of and involvement in terrorist activity, the news release said.
The Marine Corps Times provides details about the special units hunting Zarqawi:
The job of hunting Zarqawi and rolling up his al-Qaida in Iraq network falls to Task Force 145, which is made up of the most elite U.S. and British special operations forces, and whose headquarters is in Balad.
The U.S. forces are drawn from units under Joint Special Operations Command at Pope Air Force Base, N.C. These include the military’s two direct action special mission units, the Army’s 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, known as Delta Force, and the Navy’s SEAL Team 6, sometimes known by its cover name, Naval Special Warfare Development Group; the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment and 75th Ranger Regiment; and the Air Force�s 24th Special Tactics Squadron.
After Saddam Hussein’s fall, the first order of business for the JSOC forces was capturing or killing the 55 individuals on the deck of cards that depicted the regime’s senior officials. Delta’s C Squadron was at the heart of the task force that captured Saddam in December 2003.
The emergence of Zarqawi and his al-Qaida in Iraq group as a major threat to Iraq’s stability then gave JSOC a new priority. As the war in Iraq has ground on, and with Zarqawi still on the loose, the JSOC force in Iraq has grown steadily and undergone several name changes. TF 121 and TF 626 were two previous incarnations.
TF 145 is divided into four subordinate task forces in Iraq:
• Task Force West, organized around a SEAL Team 6 squadron with Rangers in support.
• Task Force Central, organized around a Delta squadron with Rangers in support.
• Task Force North, organized around a Ranger battalion combined with a small Delta element.
• Task Force Black, organized around a British Special Air Service saber squadron, with British paratroopers from the Special Forces Support Group in support.
Keep our special ops forces in your prayers as they continue to vital mission of killing the terrorists overseas before they kill us here.
There’s a character trait that’s decided by fate
Comes (sadly) to many, far too faint, far too late.
They won’t face the aggressor, stand up to his ire
They have not the will to fight his fire with fire.
So they bend over backwards to see all sides as fair,
Till they’re faced with dragon breath fire in their hair.
Like our brethren in France, who’d know better than we,
Yet seem never to learn, seem doomed never to see.
Yes, it seems there are some who’re determined by fate,
To possess not the courage to step up to the plate,
Who shrink from all threat because nothing’s worth war.
But how can they know lest they’ve been there before?
Thank God some have courage, the will, yes, the grace,
To stand for the shirkers, stand strong in their place.
Thank God we have stalwarts who’ll stand for us all,
Who will rise to the challenge at their nation’s call.
The faint-hearted, who fear, whose reaction is flight,
Have no comprehension of those who will fight.
To hide their own trepidation they attempt to demean
The rough men, who defend them, as barbaric, obscene.
Yet these rough men stand ready, hard weapons to hand,
To put placaters behind them, draw a line in the sand,
To preserve for the peaceniks what they won’t defend,
So their own unearned freedom won’t perish, won’t end.
To appeasers, rough men are coarse government tools.
To rough men, appeasers are dumb delusional fools.
2d Bn, 327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division
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