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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 November, 2004, 19:08 GMT
Black Watch holding 'insurgents'
Image: PA/pool
Many suspects were released soon after the raid
British soldiers are still holding 10 people following a raid on suspected insurgents in central Iraq.

Five hundred Black Watch troops swooped on houses alleged to belong to Saddam Hussein loyalists on a stretch of road on the east bank of the Euphrates.

Weapons, money and suspect video tapes were recovered after the raid - one of the largest British operations since the official end of the war.

The Black Watch has suffered regular attacks since arriving at Camp Dogwood.

The soldiers arrested a total of 52 suspects in the raids, but released many of them soon after.

More than 20 were questioned throughout Thursday and the BBC's David Loyn, who is with the Black Watch soldiers, says 10 suspects are still being held.

He said some of them were believed to be local insurgent leaders.

Joint operation

The troops left Camp Dogwood, 20 miles (32km) south of Baghdad, at 2200 GMT on Wednesday to carry out the operation.

They targeted a specific stretch of road, nicknamed Millionaires' Row, where the elite of Saddam Hussein's regime owned luxury country houses.

The raids were part of an ongoing joint operation, codenamed Plymouth Rock, with the US Marines and newly trained Iraqi special forces.

Black Watch soldier guarding detainees from Millionaires' Row
This was very much not a 'hearts and minds' operation
David Loyn
BBC correspondent

While British forces swooped, US and Iraqi forces raided another small village in the area.

David Loyn said the Black Watch's Warrior tanks knocked down the walls of some houses to gain entry.

He said troops had carried out a "house-by-house" operation using stun grenades to disorientate the occupants before separating the men from the women.

There was "no fighting at all" between Black Watch troops and the suspected insurgents, but the soldiers had gone in hard, he said.

"This was very much not a 'hearts and minds' operation," he added.

Supply lines

Lt Col James Cowan, commanding officer at Camp Dogwood, said the operation had been successful.

Black Watch soldiers during the raids on Millionaires' Row
The raid was one of the largest UK operation in over a year
He told BBC News: "It went about as well as we could possibly have hoped.

"It was decisive, it was quick, and it ensured that a significant terrorist stronghold was struck hard and it was struck fast."

He added: "It's part of a bigger plan which sees the forces in this region conducting operations against the insurgency."

Dan Plesch, military analyst at Birkbeck college in London, says the raids were vital to secure supply lines to coalition forces in Baghdad.

He told BBC News: "The insurgents may have been trying to cut off the Baghdad coalition headquarters from Kuwait."

"Preserving those supply lines is vital," he added.

The 850-strong British force has been attacked repeatedly since it took over from US Marines at the base.

The regiment's deployment at Camp Dogwood is due to end on 3 December.




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