Eight Marines Killed, Nine Wounded in Al Anbar Fighting
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 30, 2004 Eight Marines were killed and nine others were wounded today in operations in Iraq's Al Anbar province.
A statement issued by Multinational Force Iraq did not provide details of the fighting, saying only that the Marines were "conducting increased security operations in Al Anbar province."
News reports today said fierce fighting erupted in a suburb of Fallujah today, with Marine air and artillery hitting enemy mortar positions.
Fallujah is the center of resistance to the Iraqi interim government and the multinational coalition. Marines have been deployed to the area since March. Officials believe the city is the base of the fugitive Jordanian-born terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. His group has claimed responsibility for many of the deadly and brutal attacks across Iraq.
Zarqawi is affiliated with Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terror network, and the United States has offered a $25 million reward for information leading to his death or capture.
In other news from Iraq, three suspects were detained today after trying to run a 1st Infantry Division traffic control point near Samarra. They had been seen earlier at the scene of a rocket-propelled grenade attack, and were awaiting the arrival of a U.S. convoy when the convoy turned around upon seeing them, officials said.
The convoy set up a traffic control point and approached the suspects, who attempted to flee in a vehicle toward the soldiers. The soldiers fired a warning shot, and fired a second round into the vehicle when it continued toward the traffic control point. The driver lost control and crashed, and 1st Infantry Division medics treated the suspects at the scene for minor injuries. The suspects were detained for further questioning.
Samarra has remained secure and stable as coalition forces continue reconstruction projects designed to restore a sense of normalcy in the city, a statement from Multinational Force Iraq said. The statement also said a news report early today saying fighting in Samarra left one Iraqi civilian dead and seven Iraqi National Guard soldiers wounded is false.
Pentagon officials had no comment today on a videotaped message by bin Laden that was broadcast Oct. 29 on Arab satellite network Al Jazeera. Intelligence officials said they believe the tape is authentic.
(Multinational Force Iraq news releases contributed to this report.)