Five soldiers killed, 3 kidnapped near Mahmudiyah
Al Qaeda attackers said to be moving towards Fallujah
Al Qaeda in Iraq conducted a successful assault on U.S. Army forces in Mahmudiya. "This morning at 4:44 a.m. (0044 GMT) in Iraq, a coalition force team of eight soldiers (seven Americans and an Iraqi army interpreter), were attacked 12 miles west of Mahmudiya. As a result of this attack, five soldiers were killed in action and three are currently missing," noted the Multinational Forces Iraq press release. It is unclear if one of the captured is the Iraqi interpreter, or all are U.S. soldiers. "After an unmanned aerial vehicle observed two burning vehicles, a quick reaction force was dispatched, arriving on scene at 5:40 a.m."
The location of the attack sits astride of the operational boundary of Multinational Forces West and the newly created Multinational Forces Division Central. The Army team was "in a static position, providing overwatch," an unnamed U.S. Army officer serving in the region informed us this morning. The position was located "near a small village" and was "hit with an IED," according to the Army officer.
According to reports, the terrorists are believed to be fleeing towards the Fallujah region. "Last we heard was that they were headed in this direction, presumed captured," Gunnery Sergeant James Curtis of the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment told AFP. The 2/6 Marines are in the Fallujah region. Gunnery Sergeant Curtis' company commander confirmed the checkpoints have been established.
"Curtis's patrol threw up a checkpoint on a stretch of road on the eastern edge of the restive city of Fallujah in a bid to intercept the abductors if they attempted to take their captives there from western Baghdad," AFP reported earlier today. "Some of the trucks and cars arriving at the roadblock were marked as having been searched, showing that other military checkpoints had been set up on the road, which connects the western Baghdad suburb of Abu Ghraib to Fallujah." There are 3 main roads that lead to from Mahmudiya to Fallujah.
The decision to flee towards the northeast makes tactical sense. There are numerous Forward Operating Bases and battalion garrisons to the north and east [Baghdad and the "Fiyahs"], and south [Karbala], while Lake Razzazah lies directly east. The corridor in the northeast is relatively open until you approach Amiriya. The Marines have traditionally patrolled this region with a Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion in the past, which do not set up static positions.
Amiriya remains a hot spot for al Qaeda and its allies in the region. In addition to U.S. ground forces, the full weight of U.S. air observation platforms will be employed in the search for the missing U.S. soldiers. Expect the Anbar Salvation Council to devote all available resources in an attempt to secure the release of the missing U.S. soldiers.