U.S. Troops May Have Clashed With Iranians at Border
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 15, 2004 U.S. troops may have traded shots with Iranian guards during a March 14 incident near the Iraq border, a senior U.S. official said at a Baghdad news conference today.
Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy operations director for Combined Joint Task Force 7, told reporters the U.S. 4th Infantry Division reported that one of its border patrols in the northeastern part of Iraq "was, in fact, shot and fired upon by what is believed to be personnel wearing uniforms resembling those worn by Iranian border guards."
The American soldiers "took self-defense measures (and) returned fire" against their assailants, Kimmitt reported, noting the exchange soon ended.
"We are now trying to ascertain what actually happened at that scene," Kimmitt stated, noting both military and diplomatic channels are being employed to resolve questions surrounding what he said was not "a major incident."
The Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad recently released details of a new policy to tighten up Iraqi border security to help prevent foreign fighters and terrorists from entering the country.
For example, CPA chief spokesman Dan Senor, also at today's briefing, noted that 16 of 19 entry points into Iraq would be closed over the next few weeks as part of new border security initiatives.
Senor also addressed reports about a stabbing attack on an American walking inside the CPA's secured headquarters compound in Baghdad, known as the "Green Zone." He acknowledged that a U.S. Army officer had been attacked during the evening hours of March 13.
"The victim suffered serious stab wounds to his torso, head, and neck," Senor reported, noting passers-by heard the confrontation and contacted security.
The officer was taken to the 31st Combat Support Hospital for initial treatment, Senor said, noting the victim was then transported March 14 to a U.S. medical facility in Germany. The victim, he added, is now in stable condition.
Senor said an investigation of the stabbing is under way, and there's no evidence so far pointing to a suspect. The attack was the first to occur inside the CPA's compound, Senor said.
Both briefers declined to comment on news reports that Spain's newly elected socialist government plans to pull out its 1,300 troops currently deployed in Iraq after the June 30 handover of sovereignty, deferring to the White House and State Department. The two coalition officials, however, did praise the Spanish forces' contributions, pointing out that American and Spanish troops are part of a 35-nation coalition working to establish democracy in Iraq.
Kimmitt reported the past week has seen an average of 21 daily engagements against coalition military forces, four attacks daily against Iraqi security forces, and just over three attacks daily against Iraqi civilian targets.
Over past 24 hours, Kimmitt continued, coalition forces in Iraq conducted 1,448 patrols, 15 offensive operations and seven raids. They captured 52 anti- coalition suspects and released seven detainees.
The general then provided an Iraq operations regional update:
Northern zone A regional government convoy was attacked March 14 in Mosul by small-arms fire. Two people were killed: the Iraqi secretary of labor and social affairs and his driver. Iraqi police are investigating the incident.
North-Central zone A former Baath Party headquarters in Dawar was attacked March 13 by missile fire from a vehicle. The missile didn't explode, no one was hurt, and no equipment was damaged. An Iraqi Civil Defense Corps convoy was attacked by two car bombs west of Samarra. The convoy was transporting the commander of the 202nd ICDC Battalion. "It may have been an assassination attempt on the battalion commander," Kimmitt said. Two Iraqis were wounded in the attack.
Coalition forces conducted a March 14 raid east of Balad against three targets suspected of launching rockets against coalition forces, Kimmitt said. Six suspects were captured.
Baghdad Coalition forces were attacked March 14 by a roadside bomb while traveling west of Baghdad. The blast killed one soldier from the 30th Enhanced Separate Brigade and wounded one other soldier.
Western zone Coalition forces conducted a March 13 cordon-and-search operation of five target locations near Khalidiya to kill and capture enemy personnel in the area. The targets were bomb makers thought responsible for killing a coalition soldier Sept. 29. Three enemy personnel were captured.
Another coalition-mounted patrol was attacked March 14 near Khalidiya. A small pickup truck crossed the median of the road, moved toward a moving coalition combat vehicle and detonated an explosive before reaching the coalition vehicle. The driver of the explosive-carrying vehicle dove out of the vehicle and was struck and killed by passing traffic. Simultaneously, another bomb was detonated on the right side of the road near the coalition vehicle. A coalition soldier received cuts on his forehead and returned to duty.