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Invasion of Iraq
For most of 2005 to 2007 it was considered the most violent city in Iraq. Unlike neighboring Fallujah, it has no wall around the city, so anti-American insurgents were able to move freely in and out of the areas. Attacks on coalition forces were a daily occurrence in this city, with aerial mortar attacks, as well as small arms attacks almost daily on coalition patrols, convoys, and the FOB's (Forward Operating Bases) of Camp Donnica, OP (Observations Post) 2, OP 2A and OP 3.
During the Second Battle of Fallujah, residents of Karma funneled weapons and medical aid into the besieged city, proudly proclaiming their allegiance to the insurgency. The city's cement factory was shelled by US artillery that month as the factory was being used as a rebel position.
During 2005, a massive vehicle borne IED was driven into Observation Post 2 Alpha, injuring 4 U.S. Marines from 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, Fox Company 3rd Platoon, destroying two ISO containers filled with MREs and bottled water and damaging the Hesco barriers and concertina lines along the western wall. This resulted in more barricades and new speed bumps being placed in and around the roads leading to OP-2A and the other observation posts, and the re-installation of the ground-level M240G. In later raids on houses in the area, a video was found of the preparation and execution of this attack.
In early September 2005, it was the site first establishment of the New Iraqi Army's operations in the area, in the form of the 1st Battalion, 4th Brigade, 1st Division operating at Observation Post 3 and Camp Donnica, although still housed a very strong anti-American presence of local insurgents. On July 8 of that year, an IED struck a US convoy, before insurgents fired mortars on the damaged convoy, resulting in "many" wounded casualties.
On October 6, 2005 a Marine convoy from 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, Golf Company, Weapons platoon was struck by an IED; killing 4 Marines and injuring 3 others. In November 2005, the first Iraqi Police station was established in Karmah. It was met with violence from the local population, who strongly opposed any coalition forces. This station was attacked by insurgents, causing the Iraqi Police to abandon their post. The station became an observation post for the Marines of 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, Golf Company, Weapons platoon. On November 19, 2005, an insurgent sniper shot and killed a Marine Lance Corporal who was standing post on the roof of this police station. On December 24, 2005 the Marines of weapons platoon faced a substantial insurgent attack that resulted in the destruction of part of the compound due to a hand-placed explosive device. A video of this attack was recovered from a dead insurgent and can be seen on the internet. During this attack, a squad of Marines held off the insurgents for over 10 minutes until a vehicle-mounted Quick Reaction Force (QRF) arrived from nearby OP3.
During 2006 the city was seeing a greater Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police presence, at which time violence continued at a steady rate using multiple small arms ambushes on both foot and vehicle patrols, and IED attacks, frequently utilizing combined arms attacks with mortar attacks on the blast sites resulting in multiple American and Iraqi Army casualties.
On May 11, 2006 seven U.S. service members died in Iraq, including four Marines who drowned when their tank rolled off a bridge near Al-Karmah.
In late 2006, during a sniper attack in Al-Karmah, a series of iconic photographs were taken by New York Times photographer João Silva and reporter C. J. Chivers. The attack involved Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion 8th Marines and Sgt. Jesse E. Leach, who became known as "The Iron Sergeant".
On February 7, 2007, a US Marine CH-46E Sea Knight from HMM-364 was shot down by a shoulder-fired missile, killing all 7 on board. Three of the US Army Engineers of A co. 321st Engineers sent to secure the wreckage were also killed by an IED 13 days later, US forces raided a "car bomb factory" where they discovered five vehicles, three 55-gallon barrels of chlorine, three barrels of nitroglycerine, artillery rounds and bombs. One man was detained, and the US stated that the factory was likely run by al-Qaeda. On March 17, insurgents attacked an army foot patrol, killing two of them. Eleven days later, a National Guard humvee was reported destroyed, with insurgents claiming all aboard were killed. Two days later, a less successful bomb destroyed a humvee, with no casualties. On April 2, another humvee was reported destroyed, with all aboard once again reported killed.
On August 31, 2007, a safe house wired with explosives was destroyed in the city, believed to have been an arms cache as well as a launching point for mortars that had targeted the police station in Karma.
On May 2, 2008 four Marines were killed in a roadside blast in Lahib, a farming village just east of Karmah.
On June 26, 2008, three Marines from 2nd Battalion 3rd Marines (including the battalion's commanding officer), as well as twenty Iraqi sheiks and the mayor of Karmah, were killed when a suicide bomber dressed as an Iraqi Policeman detonated an explosive vest at a meeting of tribal sheiks. Two interpreters were also killed in the blast. The aftermath of the attack was captured on film by photojournalist Zoriah Miller.
On February 8, 2009, the local police chief Lieutenant Col. Abd Al Salam was nearly killed by a 300-pound IED.
ISIL control and recapture
In 2014 Karmah came under ISIL control along with the nearby city of Fallujah. There had been clashes between Iraqi army and its allies and ISIL in Karmah for months, mainly during Al-Karmah offensive in April and May 2015, and in the course of further Anbar offensive in February 2016. On 23 May 2016 it was reported that during Operation Breaking Terrorism the city was recaptured by Shiite militias of PMF.
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