Operation Ancient Babylon

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Operation Ancient Babylon
Part of Iraq War
Date15 July 2003-1 December 2006
LocationMostly Nasiriyah, Iraq
Result Italian Victory
 Italy Mahdi Army
Commanders and leaders
Commanders of Italian Army Muqtada al-Sadr
Aws al-Khafaji
3.200 soldiers total number of combatants is unknown but part of a total of 70.000 men
Casualties and losses
36 casualties unknown but high

Italian Army personnel depart Tallil Air Base, Iraq for an early morning convoy escort duty on 28 April 2005

Operation Ancient Babylon (Italian: Operazione Antica Babilonia) was the code name given to the deployment of Italian forces during the Iraq War. Their mission lasted from 15 July 2003 to 1 December 2006.[1] The troops were located in and around Nasiriyah.

Italy lost 36 soldiers during the mission, most of them in the 2003 Nasiriyah bombing.

Italian intervention[edit]

In March 2003, Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), or second Gulf War, began by a coalition composed mainly of British and US armies and other States. On May 1, 2003, the war is officially over, even though in fact foreign armies have never had full control of the territory, suffering serious losses inflicted by the Iraqi resistance and by terrorist attacks.

UN Resolution 1483 of 22 May 2003 approved by the United Nations Security Council calls on all states to contribute to the rebirth of Iraq, fostering the security of the Iraqi people and the development of the nation.

Italy participates through the "Ancient Babylon" mission by providing armed forces in the south of the country, with a main base in Nassiriya.

On April 15, 2003 the Chambers, through the approval of resolutions, authorized the Government to carry out a military mission in Iraq (called Ancient Babylon) for humanitarian purposes. The parliamentary authorization intervened even before the adoption of Resolution 1483 and in a phase in which the difficulty of control of the territory by the occupying authorities and the Iraqi authorities had not yet clearly emerged.

The Italian mission began on July 15, 2003 and is a military operation for the purposes of peacekeeping (maintenance and safeguarding of peace), which has the following objectives:

  • reconstruction of the Iraqi "security sector" through assistance for training and equipment of forces, at central and local level, both in the context of NATO and bilaterally;
  • creation and maintenance of the necessary security framework;

competition for the restoration of public infrastructures and the reactivation of essential services;

  • radiological, biological and chemical measurements;

competition for public order;

  • military police;
  • airport management contest;
  • competition for reclamation activities, with the use of the dog component;
  • support for ORHA activities;
  • control of the territory and the fight against crime.

The battalion of maneuver during the battle of the bridges[edit]

Following the attack on November 12, 2003 at the "Maestrale" base, the situation in Nassiriya of the Italian peace contingent changed, began to make itself felt more present in the province of Dhi Qar, an act not acceptable to the various hostile factions operating in the area, in the case of the faction of Muqtada al-Sadr and his army of the Mahdi, a group believed to be mainly involved in the attack on the carabinieri at the "Maestrale" base. At 4:00 am on 06/04/2004 the Italian land contingent, or three companies of the 11th Rgt bersaglieri, a Savoy Cavalry company and various logistic components of the Ariete Armored Brigade, left the "White Horse" complex to go to guard the access bridges to Nassyriya: "Alpha", "Bravo", "Charlie". The units that were involved in this clash fought for 18 hours, the longest firefight that involved Italians since the Second World War, which is why the 11th Bersaglieri Regiment received the war cross for military valor, for the maneuvers carried out on the three bridges in those days of the Ancient Babylon III mission.

The participation of the Italian Navy[edit]

The Italian Navy deployed various ships including Minesweepers, Destroyers and the San Giorgio-class amphibious transport dock that covered the role of flagship. Furthermore, marines and sailors alongside naval pilots given support to ground operations.

The displacement[edit]

The Italian soldiers and the riflemen of the San Marco were deployed in the south Shiite Shi, a relatively quiet area compared to the provinces sunnite and to the capital Baghdad; the main seat of the contingent was the city of Nāsiriyya, the provincial capital of Dhi Qar, where the Italian Barbara Contini was placed by the provisional coalition authority (CPA) at Head of the civil administration in charge of reconstruction.

This did not prevent the Italian soldiers from being the subject of a suicide attack in 2003, in which 19 of the 23 dead were Italian, military and civilian.

Fallen in Iraq[edit]

  • May 17, 2004 Nassiriya 1st senior caporal Matteo Vanzan.
  • 5 July 2004 caporal major chosen Antonio Tarantino.
  • 14 July 2004 Nassiriya sergeant Davide Casagrande.
  • 21 January 2005 Nassiriya marshal chief Simone Cola.
  • 4 March 2005 Baghdad Nicola Calipari.
  • March 14, 2005 Nassiriya Sergeant Salvatore Domenico Marracino.
  • May 30, 2005 Nassiriya 1st Marshal Massimiliano Bionidni
  • May 30, 2005 Major Marco Briganti.
  • 30 May 2005 Ordinary Marshal Marco Cirillo.
  • 30 May 2005 Colonel Giuseppe Lima.
  • 27 April 2006 Nassiriya Maggiore Nicola Ciardelli
  • April 27, 2006 Nassirya Marshal Carlo De Trizio (Carabiniere)
  • April 27, 2006 Marshal Franco Lattanzio (carabiniere).
  • May 7, 2006 Nassiriya marshal chief Enrico Frassanito.
  • June 5, 2006 Nassiriya 1st senior caporal Alessandro Pibiri
  • 21 September 2006 Nassiriya 1st caporal major Massimo Vitaliano.

End of the mission[edit]

The terrorists continued to fight on a smaller scale with the operation of guerrilla losing more and more men, means and territories. The mission ended on December 1, 2006.[2]

In popular culture[edit]

In Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege, Operation Ancient Babylon was mentioned in the bio of the GIS Operator Maestro, who had taken part in it.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Esercito Italiano: Operazione Antica Babilonia, archived from the original on 4 February 2007, retrieved 2017-10-16 
  2. ^ Ministero delle Difesa. "Iraq - ANTICA BABILONIA" (in Italian). Retrieved 22 July 2014.