View Full Version : 26th MEU draws fire at Mosul airport

04-19-03, 07:01 AM
Article ran : 04/18/2003
26th MEU draws fire at Mosul airport
Forces from Camp Lejeune guarding the airport near Mosul in northwestern Iraq, were fired upon Wednesday but suffered no casualties, a Marine Corps spokesman said Thursday.

Capt. James Jarvis, a spokesman for the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, said MEU troops came under fire Tuesday and Wednesday from former Ba’ath Party members and presumed terrorists while securing an airport Marines seized over the weekend. The Marines and sailors are with 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment.

“The Marines received directed fire from armed individuals (that included) former Ba’ath party members, terrorists or persons loyal to the former regime. (We) returned directed, well-aimed fire in return,” Jarvis said.

An unconfirmed number of Iraqis were killed or wounded, Jarvis said.

The 2,300-member 26th MEU seized the airport over the weekend and is holding the former office of the governor for the Mosul region. The office is being used as a regional coordination center for security and humanitarian aid, a mission that the MEU typically practices during its six-month predeployment work-up.

Jarvis said shops were open again Thursday, and Iraqi citizens began to venture out into the city.

Last year, elements of the 26th MEU set up checkpoints and sent out patrols as far as 800 miles inland into Afghanistan to detain suspected terrorists and confiscate weapons. But until recently, its role in Iraq has been limited to patrolling the eastern Mediterranean Sea aboard the amphibious assault ships Iwo Jima, Nashville and Carter Hall.

Now, reinforced versions of 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment and Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 264, with AV-8B Harriers from Cherry Point Air Station’s Marine Attack Squadron 223 are supporting U.S. special forces hundreds of miles inland in an attempt to bring stability to Northern Iraq, Jarvis said.

“Our mission here is to promote stability in Mosul by providing a secure base of operations and logistical hub from which MEU and SOF units can conduct security patrols, restore order and to enable local law enforcement and basic services to be reestablished,” Jarvis said. “(We) are encouraging any supporters of the former regime or Ba’ath Party members here in Mosul or the surrounding villages to lay down their arms for the good of the Iraqi people or face inevitable destruction.”

Contact Eric Steinkopff at esteinkopff@jdnews.com or at 353-1171, Ext. 236