Marines spring surprise road blocks in Iraq

27/11/2004 10:00

Royal Marines are springing surprise road blocks from the air to outmanoeuvre suicide bombers intent on attacking Black Watch troops.

Since the move to their Camp Dogwood base three weeks ago British troops have already faced two suicide bombings at roadside checkpoints. In one of the attacks three Black Watch soldiers lost their lives.

Watching over the Black Watch. A flying checkpoint touches down on a dusty desert road near the regiment's Camp Dogwood base. The commandos swoop from helicopters to search cars which could be carrying insurgents and terrorists.

Having an eye in the sky reduces the danger of martyrdom squads attacking fixed ground based check points. Earlier this month three soldiers, all from Fife were killed by suicide bombers.

The idea behind flying raids is to have commandos on the ground just long enough to make vehicle stops without becoming targets themselves. A Puma helicopter backed up by a Lynx dropped off a dozen commandos to take up positions along the route.

The traffic is ordered to stop, the occupants are ordered out and are searched by hand. At the Eagle vehicle check points troops are on the ground for no more than 20 minutes before they're whisked off to repeat the exercise on another road.

So far no suspects have been caught in the swoops, but it's hoped the element of surprise will have a psychological effect on insurgents travelling by road seeking out Black Watch targets.