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Operation Matador

May 7, 2005 - May 14, 2005

On May 7, 2005, forces from the 2nd Regimental Combat Team, 2nd Marine Division launched Operation Matador. The operation took place in the western portion of the Al-Anbar province, on the area north of the Euphrates River, in the Al Jazirah Desert, but near the Syrian border

The mission was aimed at eliminating insurgents and foreign fighters in a region known for its smuggling and for serving as well as a location for foreign fighters and insurgents. US Commanders had evaluated that the center of resistance in the Al Anbar province had moved further west since the fall of Fallujah, and was then located in the Ramadi-Hit corridor, extending westward. The region was also reportedly used as a staging area from where foreign fighters received weapons and equipment for their attacks in the more populated key cities of Baghdad, Ramadi, Fallujah and Mosul.

On the launch of Operation Matador, soldiers from the Army's 814th Multi-Role Bridge Company had constructed a pontoon bridge across the Euphrates River where intelligence reports indicated the enemy was located. Marines effected a river crossing at a place called Ukedi (ph), crossing over from the southern banks to the north before operating in the northern Jazirah Desert. From there, they established a blocking position at a little townlet called Rommana. Forces were then put across the river to flush what had been reported as groupings of insurgents there. They were decisively engaged; a fairly significant battle followed. Use of close air support and combined arms was employed.

Reports surfaced that insurgents were wearing uniforms, and in some cases were wearing protective vests. In addition, coalition officials expressed some suspicion that the training displayed by the insurgents being fought exceeded that which had been seen with other engagements further east.

Insurgents attempted to launch a counter-attack seven kilometers from Camp Gannon, in Al Qaim on May 9. Terrorists 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 M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank. No Marines were killed in the attack. The two car bombers died in the engagement.

According to media reports, Operation Matador involved well over one-thousand coalition troops, in addition to an indeterminate number of tanks and other armored vehicles, and both manned and unmanned aircraft. Primarily in the vicinity of Al Qaim, U.S. Air Force F-15Es, Predators and U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18s have expended ordnance against anti-Iraqi forces. The strikes resulted from close coordination with Coalition ground forces requesting immediate air support.

According to MNF-Iraq, the strikes were achieved, in part, with precision-guided munitions to reduce collateral damage. Ordnance expended during the operation included six GBU-12s, three GBU-38s, two Maverick missiles, three Hellfire missiles and nearly 2,200 20mm cannon rounds. In addition, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps aircraft also flew intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, aiding pilots, mission planners and Coalition troops. Predators, Global Hawks, U-2s and fighter aircraft performing in a reconnaissance role were some of the aircraft involved in the ISR mission.



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