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May 26, 2005

Release A050526c

U.S. and Iraqi Forces begin conducting operations around Haditha

CAMP BLUE DIAMOND , Iraq -- Marines and Sailors from Regimental Combat Team – 2 and members of the Iraqi Security Forces are conducting operations in and around the city of Haditha .

Marines from 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines have conducted operations in and around the city for the past three months. The current operation, New Market (Souk Jadeed), is focused on disrupting terrorist activity in the vicinity of Haditha and maintaining the pressure on terrorists begun with Operation Matador, conducted in Western Iraq May 7-14.

On May 7, a suicide car bomber severely damaged Haditha Hospital , destroying approximately 60 percent of the hospital in the blast and ensuing fire. Terrorists then attacked Marines from the hospital, using patients as human shields. Marines were able to clear the burning hospital of terrorists and along with hospital staff moved the patients to safety. No civilians were killed in the attack, but three Marines and a Navy Corpsman died from injuries sustained from the blast and small arms fire.

Terrorist presence and activity has recently increased in the area. Over the course of the three months of the Marines' presence, numerous roadside bombs have been discovered in the vicinity of Haditha and numerous indirect fire attacks have been launched against Coalition forces assigned to protect the Haditha area.

Approximately 1,000 Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces are participating in Operation New Market.




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