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3/25 secures holy site, detains suspected insurgents

22 Jun 2005 | Cpl. Ken Melton

Iraqi Security Forces and Marines from 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment were attacked by insurgents from inside the courtyard of a mosque while conducting missions with other elements of Regimental Combat Team-2 during Operation Romhe (Spear). The Marines with 3rd platoon, Company L sustained no casualties and the insurgents were quickly routed from the Islamic holy grounds. “This was quite a shock to me,” said Lance Cpl. Travis T.R. Williams, 24, a radio transmission operator for 3rd platoon. “We expected to meet resistance throughout the town, but we didn’t really expect it from a mosque.” Williams and his platoon were almost finished with their daily objectives for the mission when they received gunfire on the opposite side of an Assault Amphibian Vehicle. Marines from 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment confirmed that they saw men running in and around a nearby mosque. With permission from the chain of command to allow the ISF soldiers to enter the mosque, they cleared the main building and then began searching the surrounding structures on the grounds. “That’s where they found one of the insurgents hiding in a low-lying bush with only his legs visible at first in the northwest corner of the courtyard,” the Helena, Mont., native said. As Williams approached, the man picked up his weapon and attempted to fire, but was cut short by the squad. When the ISF searched the body later, they found Syrian identification on him, and in addition to the AK-47 and five loaded magazines he was carrying, he had various medications. The other man was found carrying an AK-47 with magazines and wearing a possible suicide vest and two other men armed with heavy munitions were later found dead by other elements of RCT-2 near the mosque. This engagement confirmed that foreign fighters were here and using these holy sites to engage multinational forces. “We are all happy to remove people like these from holy grounds and we hope the local people understand that,” said the 2002 Capital High School graduate.