A key terror leader linked to the deaths of at least six coalition soldiers was captured in Karbala, the U.S. military said Friday, a day after the local council issued strong protests over the arrests of three members.
The military said Iraqi soldiers, assisted by coalition advisers, conducted an early morning ground assault raid on Thursday in the Shiite holy city, 50 miles south of Baghdad, and captured "a high-ranking terrorist network commander without firing a shot."
The suspect was identified by the military as Sheik Aqeel, reports Trend.
"Aqeel commands a Karbala terrorist network and is wanted for assassinating Iraqi citizens and planning and ordering attacks against Iraqi and coalition forces," the military said in a statement.
The military also accused him of providing financial support to other militants, along with roadside bombs it said were linked to the deaths of at least six coalition soldiers last year and the deaths of a coalition soldier and an interpreter on June 8.
Aqeel also was linked to a 2005 attack on the al-Mukhayim Iraqi police station and the killing of Iraqi intelligence officers in Karbala, the statement said.
The security forces also captured another terrorist during the raid and seized a substantial weapons cache, the military said, adding that no Iraqi or coalition forces were killed or wounded during the operation.
The 40-member local council in Karbala suspended its operations and demanded an apology Thursday after police said U.S. forces with air cover raided the house of the council leader Aqil al-Zudeidi, a member of the Shiite Fadila Party, and arrested him at about 6. a.m.
Two other council members Ahmed al-Hassani, a supporter of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and Gasid Karim, an independent, were arrested in the same area, police said.
Hundreds of demonstrators also took to the streets to demand the men's release.