June 17, 2005 - June 22, 2005
Operation Spear, also named Operation Rhome, commenced on the morning of June 17, 2005 as approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors from Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division and Iraqi Security Forces of the 1st Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade began combat operation in the Al Anbar Province, in and around the city of Karabilah. The operation also included Coalition aircraft and elements from the 1st Tank Battalion and 2nd and 4th Assault Amphibian Battalions.
Karabilah is located near the border between Iraq and Syria. According to Pentagon officials, the city is a stronghold of insurgent activity and a gateway for foreigners to join the insurgency. Foreign fighters entering Karabilah are given clothing, identity cards, weapons, and instructions before spreading through-out Iraq to participate in insurgent attacks. The pentagon stated that the groups operating in this area were part of the Abu Musab al-Zarqawi terrorist network. Operation Spear was intended to identify and attack anti-Iraqi forces and foreign terrorists who had established themselves in the region.
On June 17th the Coalition engaged terrorists in city buildings. With temperatures reaching up to 106 degrees Fahrenheit in Karabilah, both Iraqi Security Forces and Marines wore full combat equipment including fragmentation vests with ballistic plates and Kevlar helmets. As fighting began, Coalition aircraft dropped precision-guided munitions, destroying three buildings occupied by terrorists firing on Marines and Iraqi Soldiers. Marines destroyed two vehicles that were loaded with explosives using a round from an M1A1 Main Battle Tank. Other weapons caches containing mortar systems and prefabricated improvised explosive devices were discovered. Some insurgents seized civilian homes to fire on Coalition forces and four civilian casualties were taken to a military medical clinic for treatment.
During continued combat on the June 18th, Marines and Iraqi Soldiers discovered a building containing the materials for making improvised explosive devices. Coalition forces also located a training compound which contained automatic rifles, a number of machine guns, ammunition, bomb-making instructions, passports, plane tickets, training manuals, and DVDs of recorded beheadings of captives by insurgents. Four hostages discovered in one of the buildings claimed that they had been held and tortured for three weeks. After being freed, they were taken to medical facilities to treat their wounds. In other buildings in the city Soldiers located a mortar system, sniper rifles, and ammunition. As troops attempted to move through the city target sites they were attacked by small groups of terrorists armed with AK-47 assault rifles. Throughout the day air support was provided by Marine F/A 18 Hornets and AH-1W Super Cobra Helicopters from the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, British GR-4 Tornados, and Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons. The air power was utilized for attacking vehicles and terrorist occupied buildings along with Marine transport helicopters which gave ground units added mobility.
Operation Spear was declared concluded on June 22, 2005. 47 terrorists were killed and one was detained for questioning. Sudanese and Saudi Arabian terrorists were confirmed among those killed. 33 buildings were damaged or destroyed by Coalition munitions while attacking terrorists inside. Three car bomb factories were located and a total of 17 car and truck bombs were destroyed by the Marine tank unit including a tractor trailer, dump truck, and van.