Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Iraq - operation Matador

Today in Iraq at least 54 people have died in a series of explosions in Tikrit. Some 96 were injured according to CNN. The four car bombs, according to one source, came in the wake of a concerted effort by US and Iraqi forces to crush the insurgency in the Anhar province near the Syrian border. It is claimed that many insurgents are crossing from Syria into Iraq. In these continuing battles several US soldiers have lost their lives and many insurgents killed. As for numbers, details are sketchy. A family confirmed the loss of a son on Tuesday and expected to learn more soon. Lance. Cpl. Stephen Baldwyn, from Mississippi was serving in the second platoon weapons company of the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines in the 2nd Marine Division, his family said. The operation, codenamed ‘Operation Matador’, has met stiff resistance according to many news sources. The LA Times reporter embedded with the offensive said the insurgents appeared well-prepared, having sandbag bunkers piled in front of some homes and that fighters were strategically positioned on rooftops and balconies. The paper also reported that a Marine walking into a house was killed by a rebel hiding in the basement who fired through a floor grate. Another Marine who was retrieving a wounded comrade inside a house suffered shrapnel wounds when a grenade was thrown through a window. The report said the ‘anti-occupation fighters’ were using boats to transport weapons from one side of the Euphrates River to another, and that some were wearing body armor. It said a Marine suffered a broken back and at least two were wounded Sunday when a land mine hit their tank. The New York Times reported Tuesday that Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle fighters dropped two 500-pound laser-guided bombs and fired 510 20-millimeter cannon rounds Sunday against anti-occupation fighters around Al Qaim and that Marine F/A-18 fighters fired 319 20-millimeter cannon rounds. An AP journalist said fighting was reported in Obeidi, 160 km west of Baghdad, and the two nearby towns of Rommana and Karabilah, adding that large numbers of Qaim residents were fleeing the area. [13:25 GMT/UTC/ZULU - 14:25 BST 11/05/2005]

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