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Citizens celebrate reopening of al Lej Road

By Sean Riley Staff Sgt., 3rd HBCT, 3rd Infantry Division PAO

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Company B, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment Soldiers place steel pickets at Checkpoint 600 near Salman Pak, Iraq, prior to the reopening ceremony attended by more than 150 coalition and Iraqi security forces personnel and Sons of Iraq, as 1-15th Inf. Regt. Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Moore, from Waverly Hall, Ga., looks on, Feb. 29.
Soldiers place steel pickets at Checkpoint 600 near Salman Pak, Iraq, prior to the reopening ceremony attended by more than 150 Coalition and Iraqi security forces personnel and Sons of Iraq Feb. 29. (U.S. Army photo)

March 6, 2008 — FOB HAMMER, Iraq  (March 4, 2008) — Residents of Salman Pak and al Lej breathed a collective sigh of relief Feb. 29 as more than 150 Sons of Iraq, Iraqi security forces and coalition forces leaders met to celebrate the reopening of the al Lej road, the main thoroughfare connecting Salman Pak and al Lej.

The road had been closed to civilians after a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated at a traffic checkpoint, killing seven Iraqi national policemen in May.

Since construction began more than two weeks ago on Combat Outpost Carver, home to Company B, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, Soldiers had been assessing needs of local. Their number one concern: reopen the road to Salman Pak.

Coalition leaders, local ISF and SoI members, began working together on a plan to restore and improve Checkpoint 600, where the attack had occurred and set the conditions for safe movement of civilians along the road.

Local leaders hope the checkpoint and road reopening will bring more people to the area.

“We have reopened the city of Salman Pak to Dura’iya, Kanasa, and al Lej – the whole Mada’in Qada can now move freely,” said Brig. Gen. Aamir, the 1st Brigade, 1st National Police commander, following the road’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Sheik Ali Hussein, the SoI leader for Salman Pak and al Bawi, opened his home for a luncheon attended by the more than 150 guests after the ceremony.

“We are finally to the point where we can come to an event and see Sunni and Shia sheiks working together to secure their country,” said the 1-15th Inf. Regt. Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Moore, from Waverly Hall, Ga.

Company B, 1-15th Inf. Regt. is assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, from Fort Benning, Ga., and has been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since March, 2007.