Coalition Responds to Enemy Attack in Fallujah
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 27, 2004 A U.S. military AC-130 Spectre gunship fired on suspected insurgent positions in Fallujah today, attacking weapons storage sites used by anti-coalition forces.
News reports said the coalition launched the attack on targets in Fallujah today at about 11 p.m. Iraq time after anti-coalition forces fired on Marine defensive positions. U.S. pool reporter Karl Penhaus said a gunship circled twice, launching as many as 25 rounds on each target. Televised video showed secondary explosions from the ground following the attack.
The aerial attack came one day after Marines in Fallujah repulsed a sustained enemy attack. Marine Capt. Douglas A. Zembiec, commander for Company E, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, said his outnumbered Marines "fought like lions" to fend off that attack.
The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force's unilateral cease-fire, declared April 9, has produced less-than-hoped-for results, Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt acknowledged, with three violations of the cease-fire within the past 24 hours alone. Other cease-fire provisions, such as the turn-in of heavy weapons and the removal of foreign fighters, also have gone unheeded.
"Insurgents continue to fail to produce the weapons, fail to produce the fighters, fail to produce those who have been responsible for some of the heinous acts inside Fallujah," said Kimmitt, deputy operations director for Coalition Joint Task Force 7.
Marines in Fallujah suspended their offensive operations in the city for almost 17 days, Kimmitt told reporters in Baghdad earlier today. He said the Marines "have sat there in their positions within a cordon, peacefully waiting until a resolution has been established with the people of Fallujah to end this hostage situation by the foreign fighters and terrorists."
Kimmitt stressed that while the coalition seeks a peaceful resolution in Fallujah, "We are prepared to use force and we have more than sufficient force (to do that.)"
Fallujah has become a hotbed of anti-American sentiment in Iraq. "Some people of Fallujah have been brainwashed to think this is a great act of resistance," Kimmitt said.
In fact, he said, it is the coalition that has chosen the political track, not the insurgents. "It is the coalition that is seeking peace," he said. "It is the foreign fighters and the belligerents inside Fallujah that continue to conduct cease-fire violations on a daily basis."
Joint patrols of U.S. Marines and Iraqi security forces had been scheduled to begin today, but were temporarily delayed until commanders on the ground determine that the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps and Iraqi Police Service are properly trained for the mission.
Elsewhere in Iraq, troops killed about 64 insurgents and destroyed an anti- aircraft system east of the Euphrates River near Najaf, Kimmitt reported. The violence began after an M-1 tank was hit by rocket-propelled grenades and a patrol came under small-arms fire during separate attacks. No coalition forces have conducted military operations immediately within Kufa or Najaf, he said.