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Marines Breach Wall to Reach Insurgents Using Mosque as Cover

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 7, 2004 – Marines in Fallujah, Iraq, used air support today to break through the wall of a mosque complex that insurgents were using to fire on them, a U.S. Central Command news release reported.

The release said Marines saw anti-coalition forces firing from the Haj Musheen Abdul Aziz Az-Kubaysi mosque complex. To gain access to the compound housing the mosque, the release continued, the Marines used air support to breach a wall several hundred yards away from the actual mosque structure. One anti- coalition force member was killed in the attack, and there were no reports of civilian casualties, the CENTCOM release said.

The anti-coalition forces firing from the mosque violated the law of war by conducting offensive military operations from a protected structure, the news release said. Though the mosque lost its protected status and became a lawful military target, the Marines still targeted only the wall surrounding the compound to prevent damage to the mosque, the release emphasized. Marines on the ground saw no damage to the mosque after the strike, CENTCOM reported.

Initial reports indicate a platoon-size force was firing rocket-propelled grenades and small arms from fortified battle positions inside and on top of the mosque, and Marines recovered a fully functional mortar from inside the compound after the strike, the release said.

This mosque was repeatedly used as a base to target Iraqi and coalition forces throughout the day, CENTCOM reported, characterizing the breach of the wall as "a graduated response to the threat."

The news release said the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force "will continue to employ precision weaponry in order to protect lives of non-combatants, private property, medical facilities and religious structures in accordance with the law of war."

Combined Joint Task Force 7 officials reported that a Task Force 1st Armored Division soldier was killed by RPG fire at about 6:30 a.m. today as his convoy was relieving the security forces guarding the Diala Police Station in Baghdad.

Military officials also reported that 12 Marines died battling anti-coalition forces in Ramadi on April 6, and that a Ukrainian soldier was killed and five were wounded the same day when their patrol was attacked by small-arms fire in Kut.

Also on April 6, a 1st Infantry Division soldier was killed and another was wounded during a counter-fire mission at Logistics Support Area Anaconda near Balad at about 8:35 p.m. The wounded soldier was evacuated to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, and was reported to be in stable condition.

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Related Sites:
U.S. Central Command
Combined Joint Task Force 7
1st Marine Expeditionary Force
1st Armored Division
1st Infantry Division

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