Day two of Operation Iron Fist has completed. Captain Jeffery Pool issues a status update. Thirteen insurgents are confirmed killed in the fighting, twelve others are suspected killed or wounded after six JDAMs (GPS guided bombs) struck a safe house. Five civilian casualties are reported, and no Marines were killed or injured during the intense fighting. Combat has indeed spread to the area surrounding Karabilah, as predicted this morning.:
In one incident, at approximately 11:45 a.m. this morning, seven insurgents were engaged by Marine aircraft West of Sa’dah. Four of the insurgents were confirmed killed and the remaining three fled into a nearby building. The building contained an estimated nine additional fighters. When the insurgents began firing on Marines, aviation assets were again called in and dropped six precision-guided bombs on the building. The number of enemy killed in the strike is unknown at this time.
At approximately 3:00 p.m., Marines observed a suicide car bomber prematurely detonate his vehicle approximately 200 meters from their position West of Sa’dah. One insurgent was killed and no Marine casualties were reported.
Shortly thereafter near Karabilah, Marines were also engaged by rocket propelled grenades and small-arms fire from a building. Marines returned fire with 81 mm mortars. Eight al Qaeda in Iraq members were observed killed and multiple secondary explosions were seen coming from the building. Coalition forces have four insurgents currently detained.
The first confirmed report of civilian casualties occurs when insurgents intentionally take refuge in a home of non-combatants, and Marines return fire.
At noon, insurgents forcibly entered into a building containing [civilians] and began firing on Marines. Unable to suppress the fire, Marines fired one round from an M1A1 tank into the building. When the target was suppressed, the Marines entered the structure and found five injured civilians. Four of the injured civilians were treated for minor injuries by Marines and released and one was evacuated to Baghdad by Coalition aircraft for further medical treatment. He is reported to be in stable condition.
Insurgents have consistently exhibited a reckless disregard for civilian lives during previous encounters with Marines. As in all operations, Marines go to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties and were unaware that civilians were located in the building in today’s incident.
The insurgents were seen exiting the building and are believe to have escaped. Al Jazeera quotes Dr Ammar al-Marsumi who states civilians have been killed, “Some people, mostly women and children, have been killed and injured in these areas. We don’t know the exact number of casualties.” Al Jazeera also claims fighting is occurring across the river in Rumana.
The purported fighting in Rumana does not make tactical sense, as the Marine battalion would be required to send elements across the river and divide their combat power. Captain Pool denies both claims Concerning the claims of Dr. al-Marsumi: “We are being quite thorough in assessing the damage, and the only civilians injured, that we have caused or have seen were mentioned in the [press] release.” It is also curious the doctor would not have checked on the casualty list prior to his interview.
Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.