[Marxism] Fierce foreign fighters
lnp3 at panix.com
Wed May 11 07:43:36 MDT 2005
'They Came Here to Die'
Insurgents Hiding Under House in Western Iraq Prove Fierce in Hours-Long
Fight With Marines
By Ellen Knickmeyer
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, May 11, 2005; Page A01
JARAMI, Iraq, May 10 -- Screaming "Allahu Akbar'' to the end, the foreign
fighters lay on their backs in a narrow crawl space under a house and
blasted their machine guns up through the concrete floor with bullets
designed to penetrate tanks. They fired at U.S. Marines, driving back wave
after wave as the Americans tried to retrieve a fallen comrade.
Through Sunday night and into Monday morning, the foreign fighters battled
on, their screaming voices gradually fading to just one. In the end, it
took five Marine assaults, grenades, a tank firing bunker-busting artillery
rounds, 500-pound bombs unleashed by an F/A-18 attack plane and a
point-blank attack by a rocket launcher to quell them.
The Marines got their fallen man, suffering one more dead and at least five
wounded in the process. And according to survivors of the battle, the
foreign fighters near the Syrian border proved to be everything their
reputation had suggested: fierce, determined and lethal to the last.
"They came here to die," said Gunnery Sgt. Chuck Hurley, commander of the
team from the 1st Platoon, Lima Company, of the Marines' 3rd Battalion,
25th Regiment, that battled the insurgents in the one-story house in
Ubaydi, about 15 miles east of the Syrian border.
"They were willing to stay in place and die with no hope," Hurley said
Tuesday. "All they wanted was to take us with them.''
The fighting that began Sunday in Ubaydi was an unplanned opening phase of
a massive Marine offensive in Iraq's far northwest against the foreign
fighters who U.S. and Iraqi commanders say are crossing the Syrian border
to join the Iraqi insurgency. By Monday, more than 1,000 Marines backed by
Cobra helicopters and Hornet warplanes were pouring into an area north of
the Euphrates River where few American troops and no Iraqi forces have been
for at least a year.
U.S. commanders say they believe that foreigner leaders of the insurgency
have established a refuge north of the Euphrates they use to channel
incoming fighters, arms and support to insurgents in the rest of Iraq.
"We're taking down an enemy safe haven," said Lt. Col. Tim Mundy, commander
of the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Regiment, which along with the 3rd Battalion,
25th Regiment, did the bulk of the fighting at Ubaydi.
U.S. officers say the most-wanted insurgent leader in Iraq, the Jordanian
Abu Musab Zarqawi, is being sheltered among tribal leaders in Haditha and
Hit, two towns 80 and 110 miles downriver. The Americans say Zarqawi was
almost caught in February at a checkpoint between the towns. Other
sightings since have placed him in other towns on the south side of the
Euphrates. In Haqlaniyah, Zarqawi felt bold enough to preach a sermon at a
mosque, according to at least one report to U.S. forces.
U.S. and Iraqi officials blame Zarqawi and other foreign fighters for many
of the insurgency's bloodiest attacks, including suicide bombings that are
claiming dozens of lives almost daily in Iraq.
Fighting continued Tuesday north of the Euphrates, where the Marines'
heavy-caliber weapons, mortars and artillery could be heard booming across
the green river at dusk.
At least three Marines have been killed in the offensive. Marine Col.
Stephen Davis, commander of Marine Regimental Combat Team 2, said he
believed at least 75 foreign fighters were killed Sunday, after the
offensive opened prematurely with the clash at Ubaydi.
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