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Marines Battle Enemy Forces Near Iraqi Border Town

Five Marines serving with the I Marine Expeditionary Force were killed as Marines battled enemy forces near Husaybah April 17.

A day-long series of firefights began around 8 a.m. when a Marine patrol reported they were under fire by enemy forces wielding machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

Additional Marines, backed by helicopter close-air support, were dispatched to the city and soon came under fire by enemy equipped with rifles and RPGs. The enemy forces were operating from positions in the vicinity of the former Ba'ath Party headquarters in Husaybah.

Marines continued to bring coordinated fire against an enemy force of about 120-150 fighters throughout the day and into the night. Enemy casualties are estimated to be 25-30 dead and an unknown number of wounded.

Enemy forces were observed setting up mortar positions. Women and children surrounded those positions, but it is unknown whether or not they were in those positions on their own free will.

Shots were also fired at medical helicopters carrying wounded Marines from the battlefield.

By Saturday evening, contact with the enemy dropped off significantly, however, fighting at the squad level was sporadic in the city.

Marines in Husaybah established blocking positions on routes in and out of the city and have cordoned off the area. Marines are maintaining those and other positions as operations against enemy forces continue.

The heightened presence of I MEF forces and the persistent presence of Marines in areas where Coalition forces have rarely operated in the past 12 months severely threaten the very existence of the anti-Iraq forces that have chosen to fight. The enemy has been increasingly drawn to the presence of Marines from the Syrian border to the Baghdad suburbs, and has been heavily engaged throughout the Al Anbar Province.

The names of the deceased are withheld pending next-of-kin notification.

Release #040418k

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