Iraqis Admit Ambush Roles As U.S. Searches For 3 G.I.'s

Iraqis Admit Ambush Roles As U.S. Searches For 3 G.I.'s
May 17th, 2007  
Team Infidel

Topic: Iraqis Admit Ambush Roles As U.S. Searches For 3 G.I.'s

Iraqis Admit Ambush Roles As U.S. Searches For 3 G.I.'s
New York Times
May 17, 2007
By Damien Cave
YUSUFIYA, Iraq, May 16 — Four days into a huge manhunt for three American soldiers abducted in an ambush a few miles from here, military officials said Wednesday that they had detained several local residents who confessed to taking part in the attack and that they had recovered equipment that might have belonged to the missing soldiers.
Col. Michael Kershaw, the commander of the Second Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division — the unit that was attacked and that is leading the search — declined to describe the recovered equipment or quantify the number of detainees who had admitted to involvement in the ambush on Saturday. The attack, in an area south of Baghdad active with Sunni insurgent groups, left four American soldiers and one Iraqi soldier dead.
He said roughly 4,000 American and 2,000 Iraqi troops had pursued a series of tips that had led to the equipment and the detainees, along with many dead ends. At one point, commanders said, American soldiers drained a canal after a tip that bodies were being dumped there.
If the missing soldiers were still in the area, Colonel Kershaw said, they would be found. “We’re not going to stop what we’re doing,” he said. “We’re not going to stop searching.”
He spoke to reporters here after spending much of the day searching alongside his soldiers. He said he had come from an area south and west of Mahmudiya, a nearby farming town where the attack occurred.
He and other officers said the full swath of the brigade’s 330-square-mile sector south of Baghdad was being scoured for clues. Outposts in the area equipped for 70 soldiers have been packed with 250, military officials said.
Here at Forward Operating Base Yusufiya, the frenzied activity of a major military operation was apparent. An additional battalion riding in 19-ton Stryker vehicles arrived from Baghdad on Wednesday. Dogs used for finding bodies or bombs moved between blast walls as the line for dinner on base ran out the door. Several helicopters an hour came and went with supplies and soldiers.
Colonel Kershaw said the helicopters had become the search’s most vital asset, allowing for the movement of supplies and the opportunity to cover the mostly rural terrain quickly and thoroughly.
“They give us a lot of mobility,” he said. They also keep soldiers off the roads, he said, where roadside bombs are common.
Lt. Col. Michael Infanti, the battalion commander for the unit attacked — Company D, Fourth Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, Second Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division — said the road near the Euphrates River where the ambush occurred had houses on either side.
On Wednesday, he said he visited the site of the attack for the fourth time and took measurements from the location where the two Humvees were attacked.
He said 12 to 15 soldiers in Humvees were stationed about 450 to 550 yards to the north of the site, and a dozen or so more were about 875 yards to the south. Both groups of soldiers drove to help their comrades after hearing the explosion, and pilotless aircraft discovered the burning vehicles, he said.
It was unclear how the Humvees had been attacked, though commanders suspected that grenades or rocket-propelled grenades had been involved.
The group to the north discovered crushed wire and two bombs on their way to the burning vehicles. The group from the south also found a bomb.
Colonel Infanti said the soldiers had gotten out of their Humvees and moved on foot to where the attack occurred as rounds of ammunition popped from the burning vehicles. By the time the first group from the south arrived, the three soldiers were gone.
Commanders described the attack as “complex.” Concertina wire around the two Humvees had been breached, and shell casings around the vehicles suggested that the soldiers had put up a fight. That forensic evidence, Colonel Infanti said, was all they could pick up at the scene.
On Tuesday, the Pentagon released the names of four soldiers whom it listed as “duty status whereabouts unknown”: Sgt. Anthony J. Schober, 23, of Reno, Nev.; Specialist Alex R. Jimenez, 25, of Lawrence, Mass.; Pfc. Joseph J. Anzack Jr., 20, of Torrance, Calif.; and Pvt. Byron W. Fouty, 19, of Waterford, Mich. Of the four, one was known to be dead but was badly burned in the attack, and it was not known which man it was.

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