AR RAMADI, Iraq -- Iraqi Army soldiers and U.S. Marines recently gained entry and searched a local mosque for weapons and anti-coalition forces propaganda, Dec. 10.The soldiers felt it was necessary to enter the mosque when a U.S. Army convoy came under attack from improvised explosive devices and Molotov cocktails while the mosque’s speaker system was used to call insurgents to attack. “It was a pretty straightforward mission,” said 2nd Lt. Chris Hopkins, 4th Platoon’s commander with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment. “After the Army convoy was hit and the insurgents began throwing the Molotovs, we heard the mosque calling for reinforcements and calling for the death of the Coalition Forces. We called it up the chain of command and got permission to enter the mosque to find out who was speaking and to show the insurgents here that we will respect the sanctity of a mosque only if they do and don’t use it as a base for terrorist operations.”While it is not the first time Coalition Forces have entered a mosque, it is a rare occurrence. One of the biggest things the Marines and IA soldiers were reminded of was to respect the building and to be especially careful when searching for weapons and propaganda.“When we go into a place like this, we need to be careful and not provoke the local population,” said Capt. Phillip Ash, the commanding officer of Company K. “These are the holy places for these people, and we need to ensure we respect that.”The mission was a quick one and ended with the capture of a handful of assault rifles and printed anti-coalition forces propaganda. While the Marines moved quickly through the mosque and surrounding buildings, they were careful not to disturb anything and left without breaking anything or defiling any rooms, said Hopkins. “We do what we can to respect their religious rights but when the insurgents use their mosques as a base, we need to be able to protect ourselves,” he said.