Coalition, Iraqi Forces To Conduct Joint Patrols in Fallujah
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 26, 2004 Coalition and Iraqi forces soon will conduct joint security patrols in the troubled town of Fallujah, senior officials said today in Baghdad.
Possibly as early as April 27, "we will have joint Iraqi Police Service, Iraqi Civil Defense Corps and coalition patrols come into the town of Fallujah," Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy operations director for Combined Joint Task Force 7, told reporters during a news conference.
Coalition and Iraqi security elements are going into Fallujah, the general explained, to occupy Iraqi police stations and establish street patrols to assert Iraqi control of the city. The joint patrols are part of a cease-fire agreement between coalition and Fallujah authorities that was announced April 19.
Kimmitt observed that outlawed weapons turn-ins in Fallujah also part of the cease-fire agreement have left much to be desired. Thus far, he said small quantities of mostly old, worn-out weapons have been delivered.
The Fallujah cease-fire remains in effect, he pointed out, while noting U.S., coalition and Iraqi security forces have the right to defend themselves against attacks.
Addressing reports that insurgents in Najaf are storing weapons in mosques, Dan Senor, chief CPA spokesman, noted that such a practice would not be tolerated.
Senor, who accompanied Kimmitt at the news briefing, said mosques used for storing weapons and other military purposes are not covered under the Geneva Convention, and therefore are legitimate targets.
Kimmitt told reporters that U.S. Marines today came under rocket-propelled- grenade and small-arms fire from a mosque in northwest Fallujah. The general said coalition forces returned fire and subsequently entered the mosque, which was deserted except for numerous spent shell casings found in the mosque's minaret prayer tower.
Later in the day, coalition troops were attacked and pinned down from small- arms and RPG fire coming from the same mosque, Kimmitt said. Requested coalition air and tank support fired on the mosque. Eight enemy troops were killed in the exchange, and the mosque received some damage, he reported. One coalition soldier died of his wounds and eight others were wounded, the general said.
Kimmitt also reported two U.S. soldiers were killed and five others were wounded today by an explosion during a search of a building in central Baghdad. Eight Iraqi civilians also were injured by the blast, he said.
The general also noted that a coalition observation post near Karbala was engaged by an enemy patrol late yesterday, and two of the enemy were killed.
The situation in and around Basra, the site of recent car bombings, "continues to be peaceful," Kimmitt reported.