The force is expected eventually to cover the whole country (file photo)
26 May 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Iraq's interior and defense ministers announced at a 26 May press briefing in Baghdad that they will launch a massive security operation in Baghdad in an effort to capture terrorists operating there, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reported.
The operation, dubbed Operation Thunder, will employ 40,000 security personnel.
"The police and the emergency forces and the traffic police will be present 24 hours a day at 675 [permanent] checkpoints [in Baghdad], in addition to makeshift checkpoints," Interior Minister Bayan Jabr told reporters at the briefing. "They will be deterring [the terrorists] with all means of force."
Jabr told reporters that no time limit has been set for the operation, meaning that the measures will be in place indefinitely.
Jabr said that ministry commando forces and an army unit will also carry out operations "according to the intelligence information that we get on the positions of terrorists and on the car-bomb-making factories. These forces will perform unexpected attacks [operations]." Asked if the security measures, which will effectively divide areas of the city into sectors, will affect civilian movement, Jabr said: "Yesterday, in the National Assembly, one of the ministers referred to this possibility. We have been saying that these measures are for the protection of citizens. Moreover, the Iraqi citizens will feel only comfort and safety."
Jabr also said that between 15 April and 25 May, 118 car bombs were detonated in the capital, while another 13 cars were deactivated before exploding, RFI reported.
Seventy-eight terrorists have been arrested since 22 May, many of them holding citizenship from predominantly Arab countries other than Iraq. In one terrorist hideout, $6 million was seized, Jabr said.
Jabr related the details of a raid in the southern Iraqi port city of Al-Basrah in which he said terrorists attempted to smuggle "highly important" Iraqi government documents out of the country by ship. "Terrorists were arrested who were attempting to smuggle these documents to an Arab, non-neighboring country," Jabr said. The incident remains under investigation, he said.