1ST Armored Division Clears Mosque of Militia
Armored Division Clears Mosque of Militia
Karbala, Iraq -- (USCC)
May 13, 2004 -- Soldiers from Task Force 1st Armored Division cleared a building
complex used by Muqtada's Militia during a cordon and search operation that
began last night and continued into this morning.
The operation began at about 11 p.m. Tuesday when elements of Task Force 1-37,
Armored Division moved into positions around the 12-building Mukhayam
Mosque and shrine complex.
Karbala, a Shiite holy city south of Baghdad, has been the site of several
clashes between militiamen loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and
U.S. and other coalition troops over the past few days. The Mukhayam Mosque is
located about 500 yards from the Imam Hussein and Imam Abbas shrines, two of
Iraq's most revered religious sites located at the city's center. Extreme
caution was taken to ensure the holy shrines were not damaged in any way during
Muqtada's Militia used the mosque complex to plan attacks against members of the
coalition, stage forces and to store weapons and ammunition. Ammunition caches
found inside several of the buildings were rigged for demolition.
The coalition task force also included Polish and Bulgarian units, a company
from the 402nd
Iraqi Civil Defense Corps and Iraqi Police Service officers.
As Soldiers prepared to enter the complex, they received mortar, small arms and
rocket-propelled grenade fire from the mosque and from rooftops of surrounding
During the exchange, a cache of weapons and ammunition in one of the buildings
At about 2:50 a.m. Soldiers rescued two bound-and-gagged Iraqi police officers
from another building. Ammunition found with the policemen, also rigged for
demolition, was disarmed.
Militiamen holed up inside the shrine fought the advancing Coalition forces with
small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and hand grenades.
Iraqi Civil Defense Corps soldiers and Iraqi police officers made the assault
into the mosque while other coalition forces established a cordon around the
building. Inside, they found 15 artillery rounds, 15 mortar rounds and small
About 20 enemy militiamen were killed during the assault. Seven U.S. Soldiers
Today, Soldiers have been destroying the weapons and ammunition found during the
Task Force Soldiers and Iraqi security forces remain in the area to secure the
site and prevent looting.
According to published reports, signs of mainstream Shiite resentment of al-Sadr
have been rising. Tuesday, about 1,000 people marched through Najaf streets
demanding that he and his followers leave the city, as moderate Shiite leaders
have urged. Tensions rose as the march passed al-Sadr's office. His fighters
fired into the air, but there was no clash.