US troops arrest dozens of Iraqi fighters as blasts rock Baghdad

Published December 24th, 2003 - 02:00 GMT

Occupation soldiers arrested dozens of fighters including several associates of a former aide to ousted leader Saddam Hussein who is believed to have a leading role in Iraq's resistance.  


Early Wednesday, explosions rocked the capital of Baghdad as the US military conducted what it described as an "anti-rebel" operation. 


US commanders have said they had planned operations over the Christmas period after receiving intelligence that there might be "rebel attacks". Asked about the repeated explosions south of the city center, a military spokeswoman said that operations, including "aerial activity and artillery," were under way. 


A US task force in Baquba, around 30 miles northwest of Baghdad, arrested five Iraqis Tuesday, including one suspected of recruiting "guerrillas", said Maj. Josselyn Aberle of the 4th Infantry Division. 


Meanwhile, two other military sources said the other four were believed to be associates of former Vice President Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, the top remaining figure from the US list of 55 most wanted Iraqis. US commanders say he could be organizing anti-American resistance.  


Another task force in the area arrested two Iraqis discovered digging up a cache of 100 82mm mortar rounds and 20 rockets, Aberle said. (

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