Battle of Haditha

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Not to be confused with the 2007 film Battle for Haditha which portrays the Haditha killings.

Battle of Haditha
Part of the Iraq War
Deadliest Roadside Bombing.jpg
Scene of the AAV destroyed in the operation at Haditha
Date August 1, 2005 - August 4, 2005
Location Haditha, Iraq
Result Indecisive
Belligerents
United States United States Iraq Iraqi insurgents
Strength
1,000 Americans unknown
Casualties and losses
21 killed, 1 wounded[1] 40 killed

The Battle of Haditha was a battle fought between U.S. forces and Ansar al-Sunna in early August 2005 on the outskirts of the town of Haditha, Iraq, which was one of the many towns that were under insurgent control in the Euphrates River valley during 2005.

On the first day of the battle, a six-man United States Marine Corps sniper unit in Haditha was attacked and overrun by a large insurgent force. All six men were found dead after the battle.

Two days after the killings, Marine forces launched Operation Quick Strike to disrupt insurgent presence in the Haditha area. On the second day of that operation, a Marine Amphibious Assault Vehicle hit a large road side bomb, killing 15 out of the 16 on board.

Marine snipers overrun[edit]

On the morning of August 1, 2005 a six-man Marine sniper unit on the outskirts of Haditha was attacked by a large insurgent force from the Ansar al-Sunna group and in less than 10 minutes was overrun.[2] Five members of the unit were killed. One was missing and was reported to have been seen alive but wounded and being driven through the streets of Haditha.

A few days later a video of the attack was posted on the Internet on which insurgents were seen rushing the Marines. The group’s Web site posted still photographs showing a bloody, badly wounded body wearing Marine camouflage trousers and two hooded gunmen standing in front of several rifles. The insurgents said that they slit the throats of some of the Marines. Masked gunmen had shown up in the Haditha public market that afternoon displaying helmets, flak jackets and other equipment they said was taken from the bodies of the dead Marines. The bodies of five of the Marines were found in one place and the body of the sixth was discovered later a few miles away.

Operation Quick Strike[edit]

Two days after the killings, around 1000 Marines from the Regimental Combat Team 2 (RCT-2) and Iraqi soldiers started "Operation Quick Strike", which included efforts to find the insurgents responsible, however the primary intent was to interdict and disrupt militants' presence in the Haditha, Haqliniyah, and Barwanah areas. The operation began when Marines and Iraqi soldiers moved into Haqliniyah, about seven kilometers southwest of Haditha. 40 insurgents were killed, including four in a Super Cobra helicopter attack.

On the second day of the operation, a Marine amphibious assault vehicle, which was transporting Marines to the initial assault, hit a huge roadside bomb. The vehicle was completely destroyed and 15 out of the 16 people that were inside it were killed, with only one Marine surviving. The lone surviving Marine was a young man from Mississippi. Among the killed was also an Iraqi civilian interpreter.[3]

All but three of the Marines killed were assigned to 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines (3/25). The Marines not assigned to 3/25 were assigned to 4th Amphibious Assault Battalion. The driver of the vehicle was ejected when the amphibious assault vehicle (also known as amtracs, tracs, tractors etc.) was thrown through the air. Though he did live he received severe burns on a majority of his body. Eleven of them were members of the battalion's Lima Company. The company had already lost twelve servicemen since the beginning of the war, including eight members in Operation Matador in May. In May, out of the 9 Marines killed and 40 wounded during Matador, five killed and nine wounded were from the same squad of Lima company. During 2005, Lima Company was the workhorse of both RCT-2 and 3/25, participating in 15 regimental and battalion operations throughout their tour. The company saw combat from Hīt, Iraq in the east to Al-Qa'im in the west. During Operation Matador, all members of one squad were killed or wounded in 96 hours of fighting.[4] By the end of their deployment the Ohio Marine battalion lost 48 Marines and Sailors and another 150 wounded out of a complement of 1,350 Marines.

Marines from second Marine Division Small Craft Company assisted in locating the bodies of the slain snipers and were engaged in a large fire fight on the east bank of the Euphrates River in the city of Haditha.

Aftermath[edit]

On 1 August 2005, Lima Company, 3/25 had detained two military age males in the home next to the site where the snipers had been killed and had found large quantities of blood in the house. Both these Iraqi males were flown to Al Asad Airbase for interrogation. In late August 2005, Lima Company, 3/25 conducted a raid on the same house and detained seven Iraqi males. A large weapons cache of small arms and explosives was discovered buried behind the house. These Iraqi males were also transported to Al Asad Airbase where six of them subsequently confessed to the killing of the snipers.

In September 2005 3rd Battalion 1st Marines surrounded the Haditha Triad (Haditha, Barwanah, Haqlaniyah) and assaulted Haditha. The city was proclaimed to be another Fallujah Battle, i.e., heavy house to house fighting. The Marines of 3/1 took the entire city in four days without firing a shot. 3/1 would hold the entire Triad area of Haditha, Barwanah, and Haqlaniyah until March 2006 when 3/3 relieved them. During 3/1's deployment, they found over 1,000 caches, detained over 400 known insurgents and lost four Marines during their entire deployment.

In early 2006, eight Iraqi men involved in the sniper incident were tried by an Iraqi court in Baghdad, found guilty, and executed. This raid is referenced in the A&E documentary Combat Diary: The Marines of Lima Company which premiered in May 2006.[5]

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