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Mission 33 - Chronology
Fallujah Vigilant Resolve

Thursday, February 12, 2004
General John P. Abizaid, commander of all US forces in the Middle East, narrowly escapes an assassination attempt while visiting an Iraqi Civil Defense Outpost in Fallujah, Iraq.

Saturday, February 14
Insurgents raid a Fallujah police station, killing 17 officers and releasing more than 80 prisoners out in into the streets.

Saturday, March 20
Marines take over for the 82nd Airborne in Fallujah in a normal rotation.

Friday March 26
Marines move into the center of Fallujah, a place American troops rarely go, and are met with mortar fire and RPGs. One Marine and 5 Iraqis are killed, including an ABC cameraman.

Wednesday, March 31
Four US security contractors are ambushed and killed in Fallujah. Their bodies are beaten, burned and dragged through the streets by a mob of insurgents. Two of the dead are strung up from a bridge. Five US soldiers are killed when a roadside bomb explodes under their armored vehicle outside Fallujah.

Monday, April 5
1,200 U.S. Marines and two battalions of Iraqi security forces surround Fallujah and prepare to launch Operation Vigilant Resolve to flush out and punish insurgents. Troops from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force begin digging trenches around the city, where roads are blockaded, and a 7 pm. to 6 am curfew is enforced.

Tuesday, April 6
Marines drive into the center of Fallujah. They are led by Abrams tanks and infantry fighting vehicles across a railway line north of the city and into urban areas. Insurgents fire assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades. US forces move in and out of buildings and using them as posts against gunmen. Helicopters shoot at hideouts from overhead. Marines fight for hours against gunmen in a residential neighborhood. They use an AC-130 gunship against the guerillas and tanks and mounted grenade launchers to get snipers on rooftops. Warplanes firing rockets destroy four houses. Troops pull back before nightfall.

Wednesday, April 7
A Marine vehicle is hit by an RPG fired from the Abdul-Aziz al-Samarrai mosque. This sparks a 6-hour battle. Marines try to flush out militants holed up inside, and eventually, a Cobra helicopter fires a Hellfire missile at the base of the minaret and an F-16 drops a 500-lb bomb on a mosque compound wall.

Thursday, April 8
A military convoy is hit by a roadside bomb, leaving four Marines wounded. Widespread fighting has left 460 Iraqis and 36 Americans dead in Fallujah thus far. Friday, April 9 The US calls a truce to allow for talks with local Fallujah leaders and to get humanitarian supplies into the city, but mortar and other fire comes soon after the 12pm start time, and US forces get permission to restart offensive operations just 90 minutes later.

Sunday, April 11
Insurgents shoot down an AH-64 Army attack helicopter near Fallujah, killing two crew members. New rebel tactics are revealed when American troops raiding a home discover suicide belts and a carton with "82nd Airborne" stamped on the top, full of U.S. Army-issued desert fatigues.

Tuesday, April 13
Tension in Fallujah escalates, and US Marines anticipate an all out bloody siege to take the volatile city. Insurgents continue to have organized complex ambushes, using roadside bombs, machine guns, and rockets.

A U.S. military H-53 Sikorsky helicopter is hit by an enemy RPG and forced to land with three crew members wounded. One Marine in a rescue squad is killed by insurgents who attack as troops attempt to secure the downed plane.

A three-hour battle erupts when an armored personnel carrier convoy comes under attack. One vehicle catches fire, and the convoy is soon surrounded from all sides. Several Marines are wounded and additional troops are attacked while trying to save the 17-man crew.

Wednesday, April 14
Just before dawn, AC-130 Spectre gunships launch a raid over the six-block area surrounding the spot where the convoy was attacked the day before.

Thursday, April 15
Marines use PsyOps tactics in Fallujah, including broadcasting insults to agitate the enemy and blaring heavy metal music. They continue to fight, firing a TOW missile at the al-Hadra mosque minaret that insurgents are using as an observation post. Marines find insurgents’ weapons caches with surface-to-air missiles, anti-tank mines, a US TOW anti-tank missile, and Pepsi bottles stuffed with explosives.

Halfway through the month, April becomes the deadliest month for US forces since they moved into Iraq.

Monday, April 19
Fallujah’s civic leaders meet with American officials and call for insurgents to turn in their weapons in exchange for an end to the US siege of the city.

Tuesday, April 20
Iraqi security forces and civilians start to move back into the city. US military let 50 families a day back into Fallujah.

Wednesday, April 21
No guerillas come forward to turn in their weapons. Fighting resumes. Marines battle insurgents in northern Fallujah and kill 9. US troops are not discouraged though. They suspect the attack is isolated and a last-ditch effort by groups like the Mujahedeen to get one last hit in before the political agreement takes hold.

Sunday, April 25
The US military announces a 2-day extension to the ceasefire agreement to give the political plan more time to work. Marines hesitate to pose an ultimatum and threaten an all-out assault. Three more days of fighting follow.

Monday, April 26
Heavy fighting leaves one Marine and eight insurgents dead. Tank fire destroys a mosque minaret that U.S. commanders say insurgents were using as sniper's nest.

Tuesday, April 27
US aircraft drop white leaflets over Fallujah, which read, "Surrender, you are surrounded. If you are a terrorist, beware, because your last day was yesterday."

In the evening, a US AC-130 gunship hammers targets in the city. Blasts and gunfire continue for more than half an hour in sustained fighting.

Thursday, April 29
US Marines agree to pull out of Fallujah and allow an all-Iraqi force to take over control of the city, but as political agreements are being ironed out, fighting continues in the area.

Friday, April 30
Marines cut down their presence in Fallujah, and the new 1,100-member Iraqi security force called the Fallujah Brigade takes over.


Fallujah Vigilant Resolve

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