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Mission 18 - Detail
al Qaeda: The Battle for Mosul

June 24, 2004:
The men of Blackhawk company help the Iraqis crack open a nest of insurgents and restore order to the mean streets of Mosul.

It is already broiling hot, just after nine in the morning in Mosul, when the chaos starts. Two car bombs and a truck bomb blow up almost simultaneously outside a police station, a police academy, and a hospital. Another car bomb detonates at 10:15 am near the Sheik Fatih police station in the west. By now, at least 60 people are dead, including a US soldier, and more than 200 are wounded. Outside the academy, the bomb has started a fire which engulfs 20 cars. The campaign is not over.

Insurgents from the Tawid and Jihad movement of al Qaeda-linked terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi are trying to derail the handover of power which is only days away. It looks like they are winning. Reports surface that guerrilla fighters dressed in black have launched attacks all over the country-- timed with the Mosul bombings. Police stations and government complexes in Baghdad, Baqouba, Ramadi, and Mahaweel are under siege. The fighting at Baqouba is particularly bad. Insurgents seize two police stations and destroy the home of a nearby police commander. Terrorists packing automatic weapons and rocket launchers roam all over the city. Two Americans are killed and seven are wounded in the melee. Coalition forces have to call out heavy air support. US planes drop three bombs, 500 lbs. each, on insurgent positions near a Baqouba football stadium.

When the Iraqi National Guard receives word that the terrorists have taken over the Sheik Fatih station, they move in. The ING has dealt with these kinds of attacks before. Car bombs exploding outside its recruiting centers and having to conduct dangerous sweeps have become common occurrences. But when ING forces head down the street towards the station shortly after 11 am, they stumble into a kill zone. The insurgents have set up positions inside a mosque across the street from the police station and hit ING forces with a blaze of gunfire. The ING pulls back and waits for backup from a Stryker brigade combat team from the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment. The men from Blackhawk Company arrive in their Strykers and fight their way through the hail of gunfire in an intense, hour-long battle to retake the police station. ING troops move in and clear the mosque. Mosul's governor imposes an overnight curfew.

According to the commander of Task Force Olympia, the attacks show the resilience of Iraqi first responders. The police, bomb squads, fire and rescue people - all of them Iraqi forces -- responded well to these attacks.

The day after the attacks, U.S. planes obliterate a building in southeastern Fallujah known to be a gathering place for Zarqawi’s terrorists. And during the days that follow, Iraqi police and Coalition troops stop and search vehicles. In the neighborhood of Al Aktissdyeen, they collect a machine gun, a pistol, two AK-47s, three hand grenades, assorted fuses, and various ID cards. The security forces also detain 27 suspects.

A month after the attacks, Zarqawi has still not been caught, but Iraqi forces have claimed that they are getting closer to hunting him down. Meanwhile, US forces have been launching a series of attacks at safe houses throughout Fallujah. Zarqawi’s network has targeted leaders of the new regime - including Allawi himself - and committed a series of kidnappings and executions of private contractors. Allawi has recently issued a statement vowing to track down these elements and try them under Iraqi law.


al Qaeda: The Battle for Mosul

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