May 11, 2005
Release Number: 05-05-12
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OPERATION MATADOR CONTINUES INTO FOURTH DAY
CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, Iraq – Marines, Sailors and Soldiers from Regimental Combat Team Two, 2nd Marine Division, continued combat operations in northwestern Al Anbar province May 11. Three Marines have been killed in the course of the four-day operation. A significant number of terrorists, anti-Iraqi forces and foreign fighters have been killed. The offensive is aimed at eliminating terrorists and foreign fighters from the area.
Information gathered prior to the operation about the presence of foreign fighters in the region has been confirmed by clothing, identification, dialect and by admissions from detainees. The number of foreign fighters in the Al Qaim area is not known.
The region is used as staging area for foreign fighters who cross the Syrian border illegally through smuggling routes, known as “rat lines.” It is here that these foreign fighters receive the weapons and equipment to conduct attacks, such as suicide car bombs and assassination or kidnapping of political or civilian targets, in the more populated key cities of Baghdad, Ramadi, Fallujah and Mosul.
Yesterday, east of Husaybah, AH-1W “Super Cobra” helicopters observed three armed males digging holes into the road to place explosives. The helicopters engaged and killed the terrorists.
In Husaybah last night, half of a mile south of Camp Gannon, Marines killed several terrorists armed with AK-47 automatic rifles. The enemy was brought down by Marine light-machine-gun fire.
Two nights ago, terrorists attempted to launch a counter-attack seven kilometers from nearby Camp Gannon, in Al Qaim. They attacked a Marine convoy with small-arms fire, RPGs, roadside bombs and two suicide car bombers. One car bomb damaged an armored humvee. The second suicide car bomber was destroyed by a Marine M1-A1 Abrams main battle tank.
At a vehicle checkpoint five kilometers southeast of Ubaydi, the scene of the initial fighting and in the area where terrorists launched the suicide-vehicle attacks against a convoy, Marines fired on a car that continued toward the checkpoint despite warnings to stop. The driver was unharmed but a woman and child in the vehicle died as a result of the incident.
The driver, approaching the check point, ignored the posted warning signs to stop and bypassed an obstacle barrier, continued toward the post. At 200 meters from the checkpoint, Marines used hand and arm signals then fired a warning flare towards the vehicle, both which the driver ignored. The Marines next fired warning shots in front of the vehicle.
The driver then jumped out of his moving car and fled away on foot, leaving his car, and its passengers, to continue towards the checkpoint. The Marines then fired at the vehicle’s engine block to disable it. The vehicle rolled to a stop in front of the checkpoint. At the time the vehicle was heading toward the checkpoint, the Marines were unaware of the gender of the passenger or that there was a child in the vehicle. The Marines said they believed the vehicle was a suicide car bomb.
The driver of the vehicle was apprehended and is being held for questioning in a nearby detention facility.
Coalition and Marine Corps aircraft, tank and light armored reconnaissance vehicles are participating in the operation.
More information will be released as it becomes available.
For additional information regarding this release, contact the 2nd Marine Division PAO, Capt. Jeffrey S. Pool, at PoolJS@gcemnf-wiraq.usmc.mil.