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US, Iraqi Forces capture 5 after Balad attack

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U.S. forces assisted Iraqi Security Forces in arresting five people yesterday after an indirect-fire attack on Joint Base Balad.

Pilots of AH-64 Apache helicopters responding to the mid-morning attack saw five people burying an improvised launch-rail system at the attack site. U.S. forces on the ground questioned and held them until local Iraqi Police arrived and arrested them on charges of suspected terrorism. "What we've seen recently is irreconcilable criminals using these rail systems to launch rockets at the base," said Army Lt. Col. Patrick Cooley, Task Force Marne operations chief. "The rockets are wildly inaccurate, so it's a matter of safety for the people who live near the base. It's good to see the [Iraqi Police] stopping these guys." Another aspect to recovering this rail system is the effect it will have on future attacks. "By taking this rail out of the enemy's hands, it will degrade his ability to launch future attacks, and it lets them know we are aggressively pursuing them with all available means," said Army Col. Jeff Finley, Task Force Marne effects coordinator. There were no casualties or damage to equipment from the attack. Iraqi Security Forces are leading the investigation. In other news from Iraq, U.S. forces advised the Baqubah Regional Commando Battalion in carrying out warrants for the arrest of five suspected terrorists in Diyala province, Dec. 5. The men are suspected of kidnapping, smuggling lethal weapons, conducting bomb attacks and extorting local people. They are linked to Harith Sadun Dawud al-Rubayi, who was arrested in November for suspicion of murder, kidnapping and bombing attacks against civilians and Iraqi forces. The regional commando battalion arrested the men in their homes and collected evidence, including weapons and sensitive materials.