BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) – U.S. Marines and Iraqi Army soldiers ended an almost two-week military operation after destroying 45 weapons caches and detaining 20 suspected insurgents in western Iraq, but renewed violence in the area killed an Iraqi policeman Saturday.
A spate of shootings also left at least four people dead in the troubled southern neighborhood of Dora and another in nearby Jihad, the scene of daylong clashes on Friday where at least three people were killed.
Insurgents are waging a nonstop campaign of assassinations and ambushes across the country, targeting ordinary Iraqis, government employees and local security forces in a bid to block the U.S.-led reconstruction of this country.
The U.S. military is trying to strengthen Iraq’s military and police forces to contain the raging insurgency and wind down its own troop levels here.
Operation Wadi Aljundi started Jan. 15 north of the town of Hit, 140 kilometers (85 miles) west of Baghdad, and ended Friday. No U.S. or Iraqi casualties were sustained, said a statement released by the Marines.
Lt. Col. Drew Smith, a Marines commander, said Iraqi soldiers and coalition forces worked well together.
U.S. and Iraqi forces destroyed thousands of artillery shells, mortars rounds and other rockets discovered in the valley area. Hundreds of pounds (kilograms) of explosives were also found and destroyed.
In one village, a small building that was being used to make improvised explosive devices was also discovered and destroyed.
U.S. forces have been battling insurgents in Hit and other centers throughout the volatile Anbar Province since 2003.
In Saturday’s Fallujah attack, an Iraqi police patrol was targeted by a roadside bomb blast in the city center targeted a police patrol, killing one policeman and seriously wounding two others, said Capt. Salah Mohammed.
A soldier from the Iraqi Army’s Lion Brigade was also killed and another wounded in a gun fight with insurgents in Baghdad’s southern neighborhood of Dora, said police Lt. Maitham Abdul-Razzaq.
Gunmen also shot dead three men, a mechanic, grocery store owner and another civilian, in separate killings in Dora, said police Lt. Maitham Abdul-Razzaq. Another mechanic was gunned down in the nearby southern suburb of Jihad. It was unclear if the four attacks were related.
On Friday, Iraqi troops armed with rifles and machine guns blocked access to areas in southern Baghdad, including Jihad, where residents reported seeing insurgent snipers on rooftops and masked gunmen, some armed with rocket-propelled grenades, in alleyways.
An Associated Press photographer watched as gunmen shot dead two men trying to flee Jihad on Friday. Residents said the two were killed because they were collaborating with the Americans. Another man was gunned down in a shop.
The U.S. military announced late Friday that three roadside bombings in the northern city of Tal Afar killed two Iraqis soldiers and a civilian. Six Iraqi troops were also wounded, while two people were arrested after testing positive for explosive residue.
U.S. and Iraqi forces overran insurgent positions in Tal Afar, a mostly Turkomen city, last September but security remains uncertain there.