September 10th, 2007 08:05 EST
Hawr Rajab, 24-hour Battle Reshapes Outlook
Over the course of 24 hours, Sept. 6 and 7, a decisive battle reshaped the security outlook for Hawr Rajab, when more than 80 concerned local citizens swept through the streets looking to drive al-Qaeda elements out of the city.
The concerned local citizens coordinated with the imam of a local mosque to broadcast the message to al Qaeda, “Move to the mosque and they will be given amnesty, and there will be peace in Hawr Rajab.”
Initial fighting kicked off as U.S. soldiers were preparing to depart. The soldiers, of Troop A, 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, currently attached to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, adjusted their plans after the first shots were fired, moving into an overwatch position.
As the day progressed, al Qaeda fighters engaged the concerned local citizens with small-arms fire and mortar rounds. More than 45 mortar rounds were fired into the city during fighting that lasted nearly 24 hours. The battle finally ended in the early morning hours of Sept. 7 with the citizens in control of strong points in Hawr Rajab.
This turning point for concerned local citizen involvement with the area’s security came just five weeks after the soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, began working with the residents of Hawr Rajab.
Capt. Chad Klacius, commander of Troop A, said the battle proves residents are rejecting al Qaeda.
“They’re tired of them,” Klacius said. “They want to take back their city. That area has been under the control of al Qaeda for some time.”
While U.S. troops do not fight side-by-side with the concerned citizens, Coalition Forces assist thru over watch and air support if they request help. The citizens are providing security in an area that does not have Iraqi Security Forces.
After confirming the location of al Qaeda forces, Troop A soldiers called in an AH-64 Apache helicopter in the midst of the battle. The helicopter was engaged by al Qaeda with a .23 millimeter anti-aircraft gun. The Apache responded with a Hellfire missile, killing two al-Qaeda members and destroying the weapon.
U.S. Air Force F-16 jets were also called in to destroy a bridge that was being used by al Qaeda as a crossing point into the city.
Over the course of the day, four enemy fighters were killed, with an additional 30 suspected al Qaeda detained. Two of the detainees confessed to belonging to local al Qaeda cells, while two were included in reports of terrorist activity in the area. All four were taken into custody by U.S. forces for questioning.
The concerned local citizens suffered one casualty and four wounded. U.S. troops had no casualties.
Multi-National Division – Center
Public Affairs Office