View Full Version : Three Marines injured, six insurgents killed in fight

11-03-05, 02:20 PM
November 03, 2005
Three Marines injured, six insurgents killed in fight
By Gordon Trowbridge
Times staff writer

SADAAH, Iraq — The man said he was Libyan. He said he had an explosives vest strapped to his body, and was ready to detonate it.

The Marines took him at his word. Left, they said, with no other choice, they exploded the man and his suicide vest as he lay trapped in the rubble of a house destroyed by a U.S. airstrike.

“We interrogated the guy as he had his head stuck between a rock and a block of concrete,” said 2nd Lt. Brian Fischesser.

Marines of Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment described Wednesday’s bizarre events — starting with a tip from a resident of this Euphrates River valley village that insurgents had occupied a home not far from a Marine outpost.

Fischesser, commander of Kilo Company’s 1st Platoon, organized a group of Marines and Iraqi soldiers to investigate. But the Iraqi squad, preparing to enter the house, backed away and told the Marines that there were men on the home’s flat roof.

“I didn’t like having people in that house — I wanted to know who was in there,” Fischesser said.

Marines entered the home and began checking rooms, then moved up the stairway — only to be greeted by loud cries and a hand grenade, which bounced off one Marine’s chest and between the legs of several others. They dove for cover.

“I heard four or five shouts of ‘Allahu akbar!’ (‘God is greatest!’),” Fischesser said. “I’ve never been so scared in my life.”

The grenade blast injured three Marines; none of the wounds was life threatening, but one suffered two broken bones in his arm. After evacuating the injured, Marines established themselves on a nearby rooftop and began pouring fire into the insurgent house, including rifle rounds, grenades and, within minutes, 40mm cannon fire from amphibious assault vehicles.

But the insurgents — a total of six, Marines believe — were protected by the low wall surrounding their rooftop and by a covered landing leading to the stairs into the home.

So, the Marines and Iraqi troops backed several hundred yards away and called in a 500-pound precision-guided bomb, which leveled the home.

That led to the surreal scene of Marines, aided by an interpreter and Iraqi soldiers, questioning several men trapped in the rubble. One, partly visible in the wreckage, said he would detonate a suicide vest. Marines called in an explosive ordnance disposal team, which treated the man as an improvised explosive device and, using demolition explosives, blew the man up. A secondary blast confirmed that the man was indeed carrying explosives, Fischesser said.

At least two other men remained trapped in the rubble, shouting religious slogans. Like the apparent suicide bomber, he told the interpreter and Iraqi soldiers they were Libyan and had infiltrated through the Syrian border, which lies less than 10 miles west of Sadah.

Believing the men continued to present a threat, the Marines called in a second air strike, which is believed to have killed the insurgent survivors.

“We had three Marines wounded, but we know we got six bad guys,” said Fischesser.

But Kilo Company’s day wasn’t over. Later Wednesday, an insurgent mortar round aimed at the company’s firebase in Sadaah landed on a nearby home, badly injuring two women. The company evacuated the women to nearby Camp Al Qaim for medical treatment.