29 April 2003
- Rival religious and ethnic groups said on Tuesday they had reached a breakthrough deal backed by the U.S. Army to set up a new government in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. Major General David Petraeus, who has led negotiations in the divided city, said over 200 delegates from rival groups in and around Mosul would elect 23 members of a city council on May 5 and the councilors would then immediately pick a mayor from a list of independent candidates.
- U.S. forces fought suspected paramilitaries loyal to Saddam Hussein in the city of Mosul Monday night and said at least six Iraqis were killed. Heavy gunfire erupted as night fell on the western side of the Tigris river that splits Mosul down the middle, and U.S. officers said two of their positions in the city came under sustained fire. U.S. units hit back with heavy machine guns and lit up the night sky with red flares to direct their fire before calling in helicopter gunships. The shooting subsided after about 45 minutes but U.S. officers said at least six Iraqis were killed, including five, who allegedly opened up with AK-47 assault rifles from in and around a crowd. The situation was confused by wild gunfire across much of the city, apparently from Saddam supporters marking the toppled president's 66th birthday. "It was Fedayeen paramilitaries or Ba'ath Party loyalists making a statement against the United States," said Captain J.P. Swoopes of the 101st Airborne Division, which took over control of the city last week.
- Kurdish paramilitary forces said Monday they are complying with a U.S. Army order to cease armed patrols and that they will not act as an occupation force in Mosul, a city deeply divided between Kurds and Arabs.
- Lt. Gen. Hossam Mohammed Amin, No. 49 on the U.S. list of the 55 most-wanted figures from the regime of Saddam Hussein, was taken into custody in Baghdad on Sunday. Capt. Kellie Rourke, captain with the 101st Airborne Division, said Amin surrendered to soldiers of the division's 2nd Brigade and was taken to the international airport for questioning. Also known as Hossem Mohammed Amin al-Yasin, he was among the key figures in Saddam's weapons programs. He would be expected to have detailed knowledge of any illegal armaments and where they might be found, if they exist.
- Kurdish paramilitary forces have been given an ultimatum: Halt armed patrols around Mosul by Monday, or the U.S. Army will stop them by force. Col. Joe Anderson, commander of the 101st Airborne's 2nd Brigade, said his troops are prepared to enforce the edict against fighters from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Democratic Party. Militia members will be allowed to keep their weapons at their headquarters or militia compounds but will be banned from bringing them on patrol, Anderson said. Anderson said Kurdish patrols carrying weapons after 10 a.m. Monday will be forcibly disarmed.
- U.S. troops backed by helicopter gunships began disarming Kurdish guerrillas in the troubled northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Saturday. U.S. forces identified three roadblocks in the city manned by "peshmerga" fighters loyal to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and moved in hundreds of soldiers to take them over. Hundreds of peshmerga have been in Mosul since the fall of Saddam Hussein two weeks ago. They took control of the city before U.S. troops arrived. The guerrillas refused at first to yield to the Americans but finally backed down. In one incident, dozens of peshmerga were seen moving toward one roadblock to reinforce their fellow fighters. But they turned away when a Kiowa attack helicopter swooped down low over them and more U.S. troops and firepower approached. One Army captain told a peshmerga commander that if he did not tell his men to pull back "you will see more firepower than you would dare dream about." "Our intention is to disarm them. I do not want confrontation. I'd rather we can negotiate and they give up their weapons," said Lieutenant Colonel Chris Holden of the Army's 101st Airborne Dvision,"However, we are not going to back down. We want the peshmerga to leave and we will continue raising the bar on their compliance until they have left the city."
- Joint police patrols began Saturday in Mosul one measure among many initiated by American forces to establish order and trust between the troops and a tense city of 700,000 people. After two straight days without any reports of attacks on U.S. forces, "we feel that security has dramatically improved in the city," said Maj. Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the 101st Airborne Division. "I personally have walked the streets and it's amazing how much shaking someone's hand ... can break down barriers and we have been doing that all over the city," he said on a visit to the newly established civil affairs office in the heart of Mosul's Old City.
- Defense officials have changed the status of Army Sgt. Troy David Jenkins, 25, of Ridgecrest, Calif., from Wounded in Action to Died of Wounds received in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Jenkins was on a dismounted patrol with other soldiers April 19 when he was injured as result of an explosion. Jenkins died from his injuries at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, April 24. Jenkins was assigned to B Company, 3rd Battalion, 187th InfantryRegiment, Fort Campbell, Ky.
- Dozens of retired Iraqi military leaders pledged Wednesday to help the United States restore order to this northern city, where violence drew Marines into confrontations that killed 17 Iraqis last week. A group of about 40 retired Iraqi generals met with Maj. Gen. David Petraeus, commanding general of the Army's 101st Airborne Division, after the U.S. military appealed for officers to come forward to help restore calm to Mosul. "You all clearly know the war is over," Petraeus told the retired generals. "Now is the time for reconciliation, for renewal and rebirth. It's a time to come together. Now your country needs your talents, your experience and your skills as it did in years past. As you all know very, very well, the attitude of the leader becomes the attitude of the unit." The 2nd Brigade of the 101st moved into Mosul on Tuesday, occupying with virtually no resistance a city that once housed the northern headquarters of the Iraqi army. On Wednesday, U.S. forces fanned out across the city, establishing four sectors of control in a show of force to bring an end to lingering violence and looting. The offer of help likely was a relief to U.S. troops, who must contend with the outrage of Mosul residents following deadly confrontations involving U.S. Marines. Hospital officials say 17 people died last week in two shooting incidents.
22 April 2003
- The U.S. Army occupied Mosul from the air and on the ground Tuesday with little resistance except scattered small-arms fire, taking custody of a northern city they said was in good shape for quick rehabilitation once the security situation improves. Troops occupied key government buildings, medical clinics, a television station and power plants as they moved in. Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city, is home to several ethnic groups, including Arabs and ethnic Kurds, who share it uneasily. Marines had been holding parts of Mosul, including the airfield, awaiting the Army's arrival. Last week, 17 Iraqis were killed in confrontations with American forces in Mosul, local hospital officials said. "If people would stop shooting at each other, then the place would be all right," said Maj. Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the 101st Airborne Division. "The bottom line is, if we provide security in Mosul, it will blossom on its own." Over eight hours Tuesday, the 101st's 2nd Brigade flew in 1,500 soldiers and sent in 1,000 more overland, bringing to at least 3,500 its complement there, according to Col. Joseph Anderson. American forces came under some small-arms fire at the airfield, but said they suffered no injuries. They sent out assault helicopters to chase the assailants; it was unclear if they caught the gunmen. "We've got to deal with the remaining military and paramilitary in the city, who continue to snipe at our soldiers," Petraeus said. An Army 4th Infantry Division tank battalion attached to the 101st also rumbled in Monday. Parts of the 101st remain in southern Baghdad, and other parts of it are in the southern city of Karbala.
- A battalion from the 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, reached the Hadithah Dam northwest of Baghdad to provide security along the Syrian border to interdict Iraqis trying to escape and Arab militants trying to slip in.
- Joint Chiefs chairman Gen. Richard Myers offered a different explanation for an incident Saturday in Baghdad in which four U.S. soldiers were wounded when an Iraqi girl handed them an explosive and it blew up. Three of the four soldiers were evacuated for medical treatment, including one whose leg was amputated. Col. Michael Linnington, commander of the 101st Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade, had said on Saturday that it appeared to be an accident. But Myers said the latest information he saw Monday indicated that the child handed the soldiers "an improvised" explosive device and that her intent was to "do harm to the four soldiers. It wasn't trying to return a piece of ordnance." "She tried to run away after she handed it, and it went off," Myers said. The girl got away. Linnington had said the girl handed over an American M-42 "bomblet," a canister-size piece of a cluster bomb.
- American Soldiers Mark Easter in Baghdad. By Kimberly Hefling, Associated Press Writer. BAGHDAD, Iraq - With camouflage Bibles in hand, soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division put down their weapons and gathered on cots and folding chairs Sunday morning to celebrate Easter on the grounds of an Iraqi air defense artillery school. "Morning. Happy Easter," Chaplain Maj. John Routzhan of the 3rd Brigade of the 101st Airborne said to the 30 soldiers present at the brigade's first service of the day. Behind him, a cross stood upright in a mound of sand. "Hoo-ah!" the soldiers replied. "Morning." Their equipment was within reach. The service started with the hymns "Christ the Lord has risen today" and "Holy, holy, holy," with the words printed on white pieces of paper. One soldier read a Bible passage from the book of Luke about Christ rising from the dead three days after being crucified. Routzhan encouraged soldiers to stand and offer prayers or thanks. One soldier raised his hand to say his wife's pregnancy is going well. Another said he was happy to be celebrating his 36th birthday. Sgt. 1st Class John Stroman, 40, of Orangeburg, S.C., thanked God his unit had survived the war. "We had a hard time when we first came over here. But he protected us from all harm and danger," Stroman said. Before leading prayer and communion, Routzhan asked the soldiers to remember four colleagues injured Saturday in southern Baghdad when a young girl handed one of them a U.S. explosive that then blew up. "We just want to pray for their recovery, and continue to pray in days ahead that all interaction with the enemy and unexploded ordnance would just vanish and go away," Routzhan said. Routzhan also encouraged the men to rejoice that fellow Iraqi Christians in Baghdad were allowed to celebrate their faith freely. In prayer, he thanked God for having "stayed the hand of the enemy, and that hand is becoming a friend." The United States has been an adversary to Iraq, he said, "but you have brought us to the point that we can be friends."
- A roundup of some remaining Fedayeen and Baath Party members yesterday was probably the last major mission in Najaf for the 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, which is planning to move north of Baghdad within the next week. The undertaking was expected to expose possibly 100 or more sympathizers of Saddam Hussein, but only a few Iraqis were detained, near a mosque, and taken as prisoners of war. The mission was delicate, because many Muslims were preparing for a hajj, or religious pilgrimage, toward Karbala. Soldiers returned fire while holding their positions in and around a residential area, leaping from rooftops to capture those who ran. Only one casualty was reported, that being a Company A soldier who required seven stitches when he put his leg through a plate glass window while trying to get into a building. Lt. Col. Marcus DeOliveira, the battalion commander, said the mission went well, adding he was relieved that resistance was low. The mission's success was mostly because of the training that the 101st Airborne Division soldiers receive during peacetime, he said. ''The training helps because the focus is on platoon and squad level,'' DeOliveira said. ''It's important because that's sort of the basic building blocks when they're exercising their drills.''
- Eleven containers buried close to an artillery ammunition plant in south-central Iraq were discovered by members of the 101st Airborne yesterday and could be dual-use chemical and biological laboratories, U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Ben Freakley told CNN. The 20-foot by 20-foot metal containers, which could be attached to semi-trucks or railway cars, were found in Karbala. About 1,000 pounds of documentation was also found at the site, Freakley said. There was no evidence of weapons. ''They were close to an artillery ammunition plant, so this is consistent with the Iraqi denial, the former Iraqi leadership denial ... of any wrongdoing,'' Freakley said. Maj. Trey Cate, a spokesman for the 101st, said the division found 11 shipping containers with lab equipment inside buried close to an ammunition factory near Karbala. He said tests were planned. Secretary of State Colin Powell, in speeches to Congress and the U.N. Security Council, said earlier this year that intelligence reports showed mobile laboratories capable of producing weapons of mass destruction were being driven around Iraq. But chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix said later that inspectors had found no evidence of such mobile labs.
- At least 16 soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division were wounded yesterday in Mahmudiyah when a motorist lobbed a grenade into a group of them here and other attackers opened fire with rifles, setting off a fierce firefight. About 40 soldiers from two platoons of the 3rd Battalion from the 502nd Infantry Regiment were clearing a weapons cache at a suspected Baath Party complex about 15 miles south of Baghdad. The soldiers were hauling mortar rounds from a large stucco building as a crowd watched from outside the gate. A gray car drove up about 6 p.m. yesterday, and an occupant tossed the grenade over the wall and into a courtyard where soldiers were working.
13 April 2003
- The body of a slain 101st soldier was found yesterday in a shallow grave in Baghdad, located by soldiers from the 101st's 3rd Brigade, CNN and other media reported yesterday. A search party found the dead soldier on a tip from a local Iraqi, the network reported. The soldier had been feared dead since last week when his unit was attacked in the Baghdad suburb of Dora, according to Scripps Howard News Service.
- Members of the 3rd Battalion of the 502nd Infantry Regiment yesterday set up temporary headquarters at an abandoned Baghdad amusement park near the merry-go-round and Ferris wheel, the Army Times reported. The manager took the soldiers to see hidden caches of AK-47 rifles, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. The 502nd is part of the 101st's 2nd Brigade.
- Some soldiers in 3rd Brigade also are having to deal with one of the less glamorous tasks of the war: burying dead Iraqi soldiers they find near Baghdad International Airport. ''This is definitely the worst part of the job,'' Spc. Pete Morton, 27, of Sonora, Calif., told The Associated Press. Some soldiers don their gas masks to combat the smell, AP reported. ''We try to do it as humanely as possible,'' 3rd Battalion commander Lt. Col. Lee Fetterman said. ''Unfortunately, we killed them.''
- Elements of the 1st Battalion of 327th Infantry Regiment, part of the 1st Brigade, moved to a new home, ''Camp Gardner,'' a few miles further north of Najaf on Friday, The (Clarksville) Leaf-Chronicle reported. The move was made to provide better protection for the city, which still remains unsteady, with continued discoveries of Iraqi weapons caches, looting and shootings. The battalion is acting as the town's police force with foot and vehicle patrols. It isn't known how long the unit will stay on this school campus near a hospital, but it could be for at least two weeks, said executive officer Maj. Brian Winski.
- Iraqi prisoners of war have told American authorities that they had expected soldiers from the 101st or its friendly rival, the 82nd Airborne Division, to parachute or air-assault into central Iraq, ahead of other American units, Cox News Service reported. So on March 22, they left their heavy guns behind and armed themselves with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, Cox said. They were surprised to run into the 3rd Infantry Division, armed with tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles, and who quickly shredded the Iraqi assault.
- Units were looking for the body of a slain 101st soldier yesterday in Baghdad, according to CNN.
- Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade made an air assault in southwestern Baghdad yesterday, landing in streams of UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, Knight Ridder said. They were greeted by chanting and clapping Iraqis. ''It's not really how I expected it to be,'' 1st Lt. Bill Reker said. ''I thought we'd come in guns blazing, meeting resistance.''
- Other 101st soldiers, including some from the 3rd Brigade, moved north into Dora, a southern suburb of Baghdad. There, they found Iraqi civilians looting everything they could find from any public building they could get into, Scripps Howard News Service said. ''Lawlessness is at its best up there. Come one, come all. Anything you need,'' Command Sgt. Maj. Iuniasolua Savusa said. ''We will take control of it. We definitely will.''
- Elements of the 101st took out 120 pieces of Republican Guard military equipment yesterday including 41 tanks and 26 armored personnel carriers during a firefight north of Hillal on Highway 8, Fort Campbell officials said in a statement yesterday. The 101st soldiers were on an armed reconnaissance mission when the shooting started. The soldiers involved came from the 2nd and 3rd brigade combat teams, the 101st Aviation Brigade and the 2nd Battalion of the 70th Armor Regiment, which normally isn't part of the 101st Airborne Division but is temporarily working with the 101st. No American soldiers were killed, according to Fort Campbell.
- Engineers from the 101st's 326th Engineer Battalion on Wednesday discovered 11 steel shipping containers buried at a Karbala chemical plant, and the military is investigating whether their contents have any link to the manufacture of chemical weapons, the Army Times said. Each of the containers is the size of a small storeroom. They contain sophisticated laboratory equipment.
- Meanwhile, soldiers in an Army weapons-hunting team yesterday told The New York Times that the strange chemicals that sickened 101st soldiers last week were chemicals used in pesticides. Members of Mobile Exploitation Team Alpha told the newspaper that the chemicals were probably ''organophosphates.'' The chemicals were found a few days ago at an Iraqi agricultural school near Najaf.
- Soldiers of the 3rd Brigade got to visit Saddam Hussein's palace near the ruins of Babylon on Wednesday, The New York Times reported, and they noticed that even the handle on the bidet in the bathroom was coated in gold. ''He spent all this money on the military, yet his people are living in squalor,'' 3rd Brigade commander Col. Michael Linnington told The Times. ''It makes me feel good we're going to turn this over to a legitimate government.''
- Some soldiers of the 2nd Battalion of the 327th Infantry Regiment, part of the 101st's 1st Brigade, spent Tuesday night in plush accommodations at the University of Babylon, the St. Petersburg Times reported. The soldiers used the university's electricity to watch the Vietnam War film We Were Soldiers in a lecture hall and took turns cutting each other's hair with electric clippers.
- The US army's 101st Airborne Division has arrived on the outskirts of Baghdad and is preparing to join the battles in and north of the capital. The 101st's Aviation Brigade commander, Colonel Greg Gass, told AFP his fleet of helicopters would most likely take to the skies over Baghdad in the coming days. "We have come here to facilitate operations in and around Baghdad, and north of Baghdad," Gass said. He was speaking after the lead units from the brigade arrived at the Iskandariyah airfield, about 30 kilometres (18 miles) south of the capital. Infantry troops from the 101st seized control of the airfield, which has one 5,500-feet (1,670-metre) landing strip, early this week. This allowed the aviation brigade to move north from a base in central Iraq after what Gass described as a "successful" operation in the south of the country.
- Soldiers of the 3rd Battalion of the 187th Infantry Regiment, part of the 101st's 3rd Brigade, yesterday rushed the Special Republican Guard's headquarters outside Baghdad, The New York Times reported. ''Carcasses, debris, shrapnel in my face,'' is how Spc. Sylvester A. Prince, 19, of Company B, described his entry into the two-story building under Iraqi fire. No Americans were hurt.
- Defense officials said samples of a suspicious material that 101st soldiers found this weekend near Hindiyah were being tested yesterday for the presence of chemical weapons, The Associated Press reported. If the discovery is confirmed, it would be the first chemical weapons find of the war.
- Four soldiers from the 2nd Brigade, who spent time near the suspected chemical weapons site near Hindiyah, were sent by ambulance to a rear mobile hospital yesterday after coming down with red sores on their faces and hands, Knight Ridder News Service reported. They were told that they would be examined for possible contact with nerve or blistering agents.
- Command Sgt. Maj. Iuniasolua Savusa of the 3rd Brigade was hailed as a hero yesterday after his soldiers were ambushed near Hillah and he saved the day by walking out into the open, within 30 yards of an Iraqi machine-gun nest, and lobbing a grenade to kill two Iraqis. ''He is a warrior. He exudes the warrior ethos,'' Savusa's boss, Col. Michael Linnington, told Scripps-Howard News Service. Sgt. Chuck Shy, a mechanic and driver, put it this way to The New York Times: ''He threw it overhand, and that was the end of the firing from the bushes He came down here like John Wayne.'' Three soldiers were wounded, but none seriously.
- Other soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment are dug in a few thousand yards east of the Baghdad airport, Knight Ridder reported. They have automatic weapons, mortars, anti-tank missiles, heavy machine guns. Tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles are nearby.
- At Baghdad's airport, members of the 101st Airborne Division fought Iraqis in military uniform in a prolonged overnight battle and fended off sporadic raids yesterday, The Associated Press said. At least 150 Iraqi fighters were killed.
- The dozen 101st soldiers who got sick this weekend at a suspected chemical weapons site are doing fine, CNN reported yesterday. Authorities continued to perform tests yesterday as to whether the substances were chemical weapons. Meanwhile, officials are questioning whether heat exhaustion and not chemicals, CNN said, sickened the soldiers.
- Soldiers from the 101st in Najaf were visited yesterday by Gen. Tommy Franks, The (Clarksville) Leaf-Chronicle reported. Franks gave Bronze Stars to two 1st Brigade soldiers, Sgt. James Ward of the 1st Battalion and Sgt. Lucas Goddard of the 3rd Battalion. Pfc. Miguel Pena of the 2nd Battalion will also receive a Bronze Star. Franks is head of U.S. Central Command and leader of the coalition forces fighting in Iraq.
- A 101st soldier was killed this weekend by a gunshot to the stomach near Karbala, The Washington Post reported yesterday. The story gave no other details, and the soldiers' identity was not given.
- More than a dozen 101st soldiers had to take bleach baths yesterday after they got sick near Albu Muhawish, Iraq, and an Army mobile laboratory confirmed the presence of sarin nerve gas where the soldiers had been working, Knight-Ridder News Service said. Soldiers of the 101st's 63rd Chemical Company suspected the sick soldiers came into contact with chemicals at an agricultural school and military training camp the 101st raided this weekend.
- Soldiers of the 101st, including the ''Iron Rakkasans'' of the 3rd Battalion of the 3rd Brigade, were busy yesterday at the newly rechristened Baghdad International Airport, The Associated Press reported. They exchanged gun and artillery fire with Iraqi forces probing the airport's 13-square-mile perimeter. No U.S. soldiers were hurt, but a dozen Iraqis were thought killed, said Maj. David Beachman, operations officer for one of the 3rd Brigade's battalions.
- Soldiers of the 101st also fortified their position at the sprawling airport yesterday, digging trenches and bulldozing sand berms, AP said. Two weapons caches including one with 12 crates of shoulder-fired missiles were found just outside the airport grounds. Troops also found 35 French-made Roland surface-to-air missiles in the airport complex.
- Second Brigade soldiers fought house-to-house yesterday in Karbala, the Army Times said, but by late yesterday The Washington Post reported the city was in American control. ''It was An Najaf all over again,'' said Lt. Col. Bill Bennett, brigade senior artillery commander. ''After the fight ended, it was like a carnival ... All the bad guys are gone.'' One American soldier was shot in the side but will be OK.
- Six infantry battalions, including thoose of the 101st's 2nd Brigade, fought for control of Karbala. Some of the 101st's aviation units also took part in the Karbala fight. The Washington Post reported the 101st's OH-58 Kiowa and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters were involved. Col. Greg Gass, the 101st Aviation Brigade's commander, told Agence France-Presse that Iraqi weapons caches, anti-aircraft batteries and ''military complexes'' were destroyed in the attack.
- Other soldiers from the 101st were involved in the continued fighting yesterday at the Baghdad airport. Lt. Col. Lee Fetterman, commander of 3rd Battalion of the 101st's 3rd Brigade, told The Associated Press that several hundred Iraqis were killed at the airport, including some with bombs strapped to them who apparently intended to attempt suicide attacks. An extensive underground network has been found at the airfield, Fetterman said.
- First Brigade pushes into the outskirts of Baghdad, along with seven tanks and under the cover of Apache attack helicopters. Helicopter units of the 101st are relocating to the newly captured and renamed Baghdad International Airport southwest of the city.
- The city of Najaf is liberated by the 101st.
- After a night of airstrikes, the 1st Brigade pushes into the heart of Najaf and are very close to securing the city.