View Full Version : U.S. Warplanes Hit Insurgents in Fallujah

04-28-04, 06:06 AM
U.S. Warplanes Hit Insurgents in Fallujah <br />
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FALLUJAH, Iraq - U.S. warplanes and artillery attacked Sunni insurgents holed up in a slum in a thunderous show of force that rocked...

04-28-04, 06:08 AM
Intense Fighting Erupts in Two Cities
U.S. Forces Attacked In Fallujah and Najaf
By Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Karl Vick
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, April 27, 2004; Page A01

FALLUJAH, Iraq, April 27 -- Intense firefights erupted Monday between U.S. forces and insurgents here and in Najaf, two cities surrounded by thousands of troops.

In Fallujah, which became a symbol of Iraqi resistance during a U.S. military offensive this month, a Marine patrol was attacked by insurgents hiding in a mosque. In the pitched gun battle that followed, one Marine and an estimated eight insurgents were killed and the mosque was damaged by tank fire, U.S. officials said.

Intense fighting also erupted just after dark south of Baghdad in Najaf, the holiest city of Islam's Shiite branch, where rebellious cleric Moqtada Sadr has taken refuge from U.S. forces. Witnesses said the fighting began about 8 p.m. and appeared to be isolated around a small occupation military base, far from the sacred shrine of Imam Ali at the center of the city.

The fighting moved to the adjoining city of Kufa, near the mosque that serves as headquarters for Sadr and his militia, the Mahdi Army, which controls much of both cities. A hospital official counted six dead, including three from Sadr's militia. In addition, the official said 22 people were wounded, including four women. The fighting continued on the outskirts of Kufa until 3 a.m. Tuesday.

The U.S. military said that 43 "anti-coalition" forces were killed Monday in Najaf and that an anti-aircraft system was destroyed by an AC-130 gunship.

The battles followed repeated warnings by senior U.S. officials that stockpiling weapons in mosques was creating an explosive situation.

"The coalition certainly will not tolerate this situation," L. Paul Bremer, head of the occupation authority, said in a statement read aloud by a spokesman at the start of a news briefing Monday evening. Bremer issued a similar warning in interviews with Arabic-language media on Sunday.

"The restoration of these holy places to calm places of worship must begin immediately," Bremer said.

The fighting at the Najaf base began after Sadr's forces discovered that U.S. troops had moved into the building, replacing a small force led by Spanish troops who moved out as part of Spain's unilateral withdrawal from Iraq. Militiamen said the Americans entered through a rear entrance of the structure, which was built as an administrative annex to a hospital next door.

Sadr's militia attacked the U.S. forces, sparking more than an hour of heavy rifle, machine-gun and mortar fire, witnesses said. Militiamen fell back after U.S. attack helicopters arrived but appeared to regroup and add reinforcements.

Monday's attack in Fallujah began when insurgents fired rocket-propelled grenades and small arms at a Marine patrol from the al-Maadhidy mosque in the city's northern Jolan neighborhood, military officials said. Two hours earlier, Marines had been fired on from the same mosque, but when they went inside they found it empty.

The later attack was so intense that the Marines became pinned down and had to request backup that arrived in the form of tanks, attack helicopters and fighter jets.

The fighting produced the first American fatality in the city in more than 10 days, and eight Marines were wounded. U.S. officials estimated that eight insurgents were killed. U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the military's chief spokesman in Baghdad, said the mosque was damaged in the fighting, and the Associated Press reported that U.S. tank fire demolished a minaret.

Despite the attack, and the doubts it fueled about the ability of civic leaders to rein in insurgents, commanders said they still planned to conduct joint patrols this week. "We will continue to move forward with this," said Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne, commander of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment.

Byrne's battalion began training 30 Iraqi police officers and civil defense troops on Monday, drilling them in the safe handling of weapons in advance of a joint patrol now set for Thursday. The project is framed as an effort to peacefully assert sanctioned Iraqi control over Fallujah by methods short of a full-scale military offensive.

Kimmitt said U.S. officials would still honor the terms of a peace deal that calls for both sides to take steps to dislodge the insurgents. He said Fallujah residents were expected to deliver a significant number of heavy weapons in a show of good faith on Tuesday, and he showed a videotape of Marines handing water bottles to refugees and an Iraqi police officer kissing a baby.

"And this is what we get in return," Kimmitt said, as the screen flashed to combat footage showing gunfire coming from the Fallujah mosque.

"We certainly hope that there is an epiphany on the part of the belligerents inside of Fallujah tonight to recognize that there are two tracks: There is a peaceful track, a peaceful settlement, or there is a settlement that is achieved by force of arms," Kimmitt said. "It's their choice."

In Baghdad, two U.S. soldiers were killed and five were wounded when a storefront chemical warehouse exploded while they were raiding it.

Kimmitt said the blast occurred as a U.S. team was investigating a tip that the shop had provided chemicals for bombs. Kimmitt said it was not immediately known what caused the explosion, which brought down most of three adjoining stores and covered four armored Humvees in debris.

Witnesses said the soldiers had broken a lock off the door of the shop and emerged with a sack of yellow powder, which they lit and then extinguished. They went back inside with a man and a woman wearing gas masks, said Ali Amer Taee, an employee of a Middle Eastern newspaper located next door.

"After about 10 minutes there was white smoke and the woman ran out of the shop, followed by four other soldiers," Taee said. "Then the place exploded. I heard three explosions almost at the same time." Parked cars bounced in place, he said, and flames reached 15 yards into the street.

"I saw the woman, she had burns and was running, and the soldiers ran after her to catch her and carry her away," Taee said. "The other four soldiers who got out were also burned. The rest were under the building."

Vick reported from Baghdad. Special correspondents Saad Sarhan in Najaf and Hoda Ahmed Lazin in Baghdad contributed to this report.



04-28-04, 06:09 AM
Echo Company mourns loss


FALLUJAH, Iraq ---- On Tuesday, as the smoke cleared, the gunfire quieted and the adrenaline ebbed, the Marines began coming to terms with the empty spot in their ranks.

Another one of their comrades did not survive a mission into Fallujah.

A young Marine corporal, whom officials would not immediately identify, was killed by shrapnel Monday in a battle that was so close the combatants could hear each other scream.

At a short Catholic service Tuesday morning, Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment prayed for the young corporal's family and the families of the more than 100 Marines from the Camp Pendleton battalion who have been killed or wounded in and around Fallujah in a little more than a month.

Chaplin Bill Devine, a Navy commander, asked the Marines to remember that, despite their loss, they are still on a mission to help the Iraqis.

"We take the love we have to help a people who, by themselves, need our help," Devine told the 20 troops who gathered in the fourth-floor hallway of an apartment building on the northwest edge of Fallujah that the Marines took over for their field headquarters.

The barren hall walls were plastered with American flags colored by schoolchildren and sent to the Marines.

Standing in front of rows of military cots set up as makeshift pews, and silhouetted in sunlight filtered though a camouflage net, Devine told the troops, "There is nothing more Christian than what we are doing here."

"But there comes a price."

The violence continued in Fallujah on Tuesday despite a cease-fire that was struck to avert a Marine offensive to take the besieged city.

After Monday's two-hour battle, during which one Marine was killed and as many as 15 were wounded, American tanks again entered the city Tuesday, blasting buildings and killing rebels.

After toppling the towering green-capped minaret of a mosque on Monday after insurgent snipers fired on troops from the lofty perch, first tanks and then helicopters on Tuesday again fired on another mosque after rebels used it for cover.

The isolated pops of rifles, crackle of machine guns and pressure-changing boom of distant explosions repeatedly ruptured the hot, muggy stillness as troops waited for orders to move on the city and break the bloody stalemate.

While most Marines remain steadfast under the difficult conditions, a few troops have shown cracks under the stress of the uncertain wait, getting testy with subordinates and civilians or talking wildly about leveling the city.

"I have to think they'd be frustrated at seeing their fellow Marines getting killed time and time again," said Navy chaplain Lt. Scott Radetski, who the day before had held the hand and administered last rites to the dying Marine. It was the third time in two weeks he has had to do that for Echo Company alone.

"But there is no greater love than to give your life for your fellow man," Radetski said, lifting a grim topic and smiling as he does even during the toughest times.

Radetski said the anger some of the Marines feel at losing a friend can be turned to good.

"There is no more disciplined man that I know than a Marine," he said. "Channeling that anger into something productive is something that their leaders do. It's what makes them professionals."

He said that even as Echo Company's young Marines mourn their third death and nearly 30th wounded since the cease-fire began, they are ready to do their jobs.

"They had a memorial moment yesterday to honor, pray and regroup," he said, adding that he taught them that fear can be remembered by its acronym: Face Everything and Recover. "And they're facing everything and recovering. No one's running from anything."

Radetski said he offered the shaken Marines simple advice.

"I just tell them to trust God and remember their training," he said. "That's really all they need."



04-28-04, 06:11 AM
1st FSSG support company mends roads for Iraqi civil defense troops, citizens while keeping front lines stocked <br />
Submitted by: 1st Force Service Support Group <br />
Story Identification Number:...

04-28-04, 06:14 AM
Submitted by: Headquarters Marine Corps Media
Story Identification Number: 200442853123
Story by Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON(April 27, 2004) -- Negotiating with Fallujans to try to defuse the situation in the Iraqi city is "worth a try," defense leaders said during a press conference today.

American Marines supported by Iraqi Civil Defense Corps personnel ring Fallujah. The Marines declared a unilateral cease-fire April 9 and representatives of the Iraqi Governing Council negotiated with Fallujan leaders to try to establish coalition control without fighting.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Coalition Provisional Authority and coalition military leaders have closely monitored the talks. But this is not open-ended.

"If at some point the military decides that the string has run out, then they will tell us that and take appropriate action," Rumsfeld said. "At the present time, I think it's accurate to say that their conclusion is that they see sufficient prospects that it leads them to believe that this is a useful thing to be doing."

"It's worth a try," Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers said.

Rumsfeld said he believes that it's possible that the coalition and the Fallujan leaders can work something out. Coalition officials estimate that there are between 1,000 and 3,000 hard-core fighters in the city of about 300,000 people. Coalition officials said these fighters are remnants of the former regime's Republican Guard, intelligence services and Special Republican Guard. Foreign fighters also make up a significant part of the enemy forces.

Myers also addressed the idea that up-armored humvees do not provide enough protection to U.S. service members. According to Army sources, the reinforced vehicles include 200-pound steel-plated doors, steel plating under the cab and several layers of bonded, ballistic-resistant glass. The up-armored humvees provide protection from assault rifles, artillery airbursts and have front and rear anti-mine protection.

Myers said evidence shows the up-armored humvees do reduce injuries to service members hit by improvised explosive devices. But, he cautioned there is no vehicle - including an M-1A1 tank - that can entirely protect service members riding in it.

U.S. Central Command requested more up-armored humvees, and the Army ramped up production from 220 to 300 per month. Overall, CENTCOM wants 4,402 up-armored humvees in Iraq by the end of September 2004 and is on the way to making that goal.

The Army will continue buying the vehicles at the present rate through March 2005.



04-28-04, 06:16 AM
Submitted by: Headquarters Marine Corps Media
Story Identification Number: 200442853453
Story by Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON(April 27, 2004) -- A U.S. military AC-130 Spectre gunship fired on suspected insurgent positions in Fallujah today, attacking weapons storage sites used by anti-coalition forces.

News reports said the coalition launched the attack on targets in Fallujah today at about 11 p.m. Iraq time after anti-coalition forces fired on Marine defensive positions. U.S. pool reporter Karl Penhaus said a gunship circled twice, launching as many as 25 rounds on each target. Televised video showed secondary explosions from the ground following the attack.

The aerial attack came one day after Marines in Fallujah repulsed a sustained enemy attack. Marine Capt. Douglas A. Zembiec, commander for Company E, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, said his outnumbered Marines "fought like lions" to fend off that attack.

The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force's unilateral cease-fire, declared April 9, has produced less-than-hoped-for results, Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt acknowledged, with three violations of the cease-fire within the past 24 hours alone. Other cease-fire provisions, such as the turn-in of heavy weapons and the removal of foreign fighters, also have gone unheeded.

"Insurgents continue to fail to produce the weapons, fail to produce the fighters, fail to produce those who have been responsible for some of the heinous acts inside Fallujah," said Kimmitt, deputy operations director for Coalition Joint Task Force 7.

Marines in Fallujah suspended their offensive operations in the city for almost 17 days, Kimmitt told reporters in Baghdad earlier today. He said the Marines "have sat there in their positions within a cordon, peacefully waiting until a resolution has been established with the people of Fallujah to end this hostage situation ... by the foreign fighters and terrorists."

Kimmitt stressed that while the coalition seeks a peaceful resolution in Fallujah, "We are prepared to use force and we have more than sufficient force (to do that.)"

Fallujah has become a hotbed of anti-American sentiment in Iraq. "Some people of Fallujah have been brainwashed to think this is a great act of resistance," Kimmitt said.

In fact, he said, it is the coalition that has chosen the political track, not the insurgents. "It is the coalition that is seeking peace," he said. "It is the foreign fighters and the belligerents inside Fallujah that continue to conduct cease-fire violations on a daily basis."

Joint patrols of U.S. Marines and Iraqi security forces had been scheduled to begin today, but were temporarily delayed until commanders on the ground determine that the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps and Iraqi Police Service are properly trained for the mission.

Elsewhere in Iraq, troops killed about 64 insurgents and destroyed an anti- aircraft system east of the Euphrates River near Najaf, Kimmitt reported. The violence began after an M-1 tank was hit by rocket-propelled grenades and a patrol came under small-arms fire during separate attacks. No coalition forces have conducted military operations immediately within Kufa or Najaf, he said.



04-28-04, 07:29 AM




Press Release 04-026

April 26, 2004

Anti-Iraqi forces fire on Marines from Fallujah mosque

Anti-Iraqi forces fired on Marines from a Fallujah mosque today with small arms fire and rocket propelled grenades.

The attack began about 9:45 a.m. when Marines reported three men shot at them from the Al-Ma’adhidy mosque in northwest Fallujah. Marines returned fire, confirming they killed one of the attackers.

Marines played instructions in Arabic over loudspeakers that told anyone in the mosque to come out with their hands raised over their heads. No one exited.

Marines briefly entered the mosque and found it empty. Expended ammunition casings were found on the floor of the mosque’s minaret.

A short time later, AIF elements re-entered the mosque and again fired on Marines. Marines responded with tank fire against the minaret, silencing the attackers.

Marine helicopters also returned fire on attackers in nearby buildings.

Marines regard these attacks as an attempt to derail initiatives to return Fallujah to Iraqi authorities and resume a peaceful existence. Marines do not target mosques, however they retain the inherent right of self-defense when attacked.

Anti-Iraqi forces have repeatedly used mosques and civilian homes from which to launch attacks on Marines. These attacks show a disregard for the safety of Iraqi civilians and a lack of respect for Islamic religious beliefs. Marines will continue to show respect for Islamic people, their culture and holy sites. Anti-Iraq forces knowingly make mosques targets by occupying them as military positions.

Marines are strongly committed to helping Iraqi authorities in Fallujah regain control of their city and will assist Iraqi police and the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps in restoring order.




04-28-04, 10:00 AM
Submitted by: Headquarters Marine Corps Media
Story Identification Number: 200442652652
Story by Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON(April 25, 2004) -- City representatives in Fallujah have agreed to allow joint patrols by Iraqi and U.S. forces to begin in the city April 28, senior coalition officials said during a news conference in Baghdad today.

The coalition also is concerned about a "dangerous" situation in Najaf, as illegal militias are stockpiling weapons and ammunition in mosques, holy sites and schools, officials said.

Coalition senior spokesman Dan Senor said Coalition administrator Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III asked Iraqi journalists to spread the word of the dangerous situation in Najaf and the neighboring city of Kufa. Both areas are sacred to the majority Shiia. Supporters of Shiia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr are stockpiling weapons and ammunition in these holy places. "It puts all law-abiding citizens of (Najaf) at risk," Senor said. "All individuals that are seeking a peaceful resolution of the situation there must not tolerate the stockpiling of weapons in mosques and in shrines and in schools."

Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the deputy operations director for Combined Joint Task Force 7, said negotiations with representatives inside Fallujah have yielded some fruit. The Fallujans have extended the deadline for illegal heavy weapons turn-in to April 27. To date, few weapons have been turned in to Marines and Iraqi security forces ringing the city.

The representatives also agreed to joint patrols of Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, Iraqi Police Service and coalition forces beginning April 28. The Fallujan representatives agreed to broadcast the information via secular means and in local mosques.

The representatives also will broadcast "the information that anyone carrying a weapon in Fallujah except legitimate security forces ... will be considered hostile," Kimmitt said.

The coalition agreed to allow 67 extended families back in to the city today.

The Fallujan representatives' track record has not been particularly good, officials said. The enemy forces in Fallujah, which consist of former regime supporters and foreign fighters, continued to violate the cease-fire. Kimmitt said Marines experienced eight small-arms attacks and five indirect-fire incidents in the past 24 hours. No heavy weapons turned in to the coalition in the past 24 hours, he added.

Kimmitt said the coalition hopes to solve the problems in Fallujah peacefully, but that there is more than enough military power in the area if that is called for. He said it is time for the Fallujan leaders to start delivering results. "The way we can trust and have confidence in those representatives is, quite simply, let's start seeing delivery," he said.

In the south, anti-coalition forces launched attacks against the oil terminal in the northern Persian Gulf. Navy small-boat patrols stopped the attacks before any damage was done to Iraq's critical oil infrastructure, but two sailors were killed and four were wounded. The sailors died when they intercepted a dhow trying to get close to the oil terminal. The crew of the dhow set off explosives that flipped the small inflatable boat.

Patrols and offensive operations occur in the rest of Iraq, Kimmitt said.