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Coalition Forces Repel Ambushes in Samarra

By K.L. Vantran
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 1, 2003 – Several soldiers and one civilian were wounded as coalition forces successfully repelled ambush attacks in Samarra, Iraq, Nov. 30, a military spokesman said today from Baghdad.

Elements of the 4th Infantry Division a tank company from 1st Battalion, 66th Armor reinforced with two squads of military police and four squads of infantry were assigned to provide security to Iraqi Currency Exchange teams as they conducted dinar exchange at two banks in the Iraqi city, said Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy director of operations, Combined Joint Task Force 7.

Around 11 a.m. local time coalition forces reported contact with the enemy with simultaneous explosions of roadside bombs, said Kimmitt. The explosions wounded three coalition soldiers who were treated for shrapnel-related injuries and returned to duty.

When the Iraqi Currency Exchange teams arrived at the Samarra bank, the bank came under small-arms and rocket- propelled-grenade fire from multiple directions, said Kimmitt. The fire was "determined to be coming from windows and roofs of nearby buildings as well as from alleyways and nearby vehicles," he added. Coalition forces returned fire to defeat the enemy. Two coalition soldiers and one ICE team member were wounded, said the general. He estimated 24 of the enemy were killed.

As coalition forces moved north out of the city, they encountered a barricade and enemy fire, with five more enemy killed, Kimmitt said.

At the second bank, in the western part of the city, coalition forces were also attacked with small arms and rocket propelled grenades.

"Initial reports showed at least 12 attackers all armed with AK-47s and RPGs were seen running out and firing on coalition forces from a nearby mosque," said Kimmitt. After engaging this initial wave, the friendly forces also "came under fire from enemy forces who were using nearby roofs, gates and walls as cover," he added.

In a separate incident, in another section of Samarra, four men in a black BMW ambushed another coalition convoy. The coalition returned fire, wounding and capturing all four men, confiscating three AK-47s and two RPGs. Kimmitt said five coalition soldiers received non-life-threatening injuries, while an estimated 54 enemy personnel were killed and another 22 were wounded.

When asked if enemy forces were becoming more sophisticated, Kimmitt replied, "Any enemy looking at eight tanks, four Bradley fighting vehicles and 93 coalition soldiers and still decides to fight is making a dreadful mistake."

What is sophisticated, added Dan Senor, senior CPA spokesperson, is the successful implementation of currency exchange. The campaign was announced in July and implemented in October. Seventy-five percent of the currency is in circulation, he said. "This is an incredible success story a logistical success story that is only possible with the cooperation between the coalition and the Iraqi people."

Senor noted that Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, CPA head, continues to work with the Iraqi Governing Council on the implementation of the Nov. 15 political agreement that lays the foundation for a "free, democratic and sovereign Iraq."

"The governing council took two very important steps yesterday (Nov. 30)," he added. This included setting up committees to look at the process in the drafting of the transitional administrative law as well as at the preparations necessary for the process of direct elections for the constitutional convention.

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