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Battle of Al Hillah (2003)
Part of 2003 Invasion of Iraq
File:Babylon Ruins Marines.jpeg
US Marines in Al Hillah
DateMarch 31st-April 2nd, 2003
LocationHillah, Iraq
Result Coalition Victory
Belligerents

United States United States

Poland Polish special forces

Iraq Iraq

Commanders and leaders
United States Colonel Joseph Anderson unknown
Units involved

United States 2nd Brigade Combat Team
United States 1st Marine Division
United States 502nd Infantry Division

United States 101st Airborne Division
Iraq Elements of the R.G. Medina division
Strength
Unspecified Unknown, but estimated to be around or above 1,000
Casualties and losses

One soldier killed

8 Apache Helicopters damaged

~250 killed
2 Field Artillery Batteries destroyed 1 Anti-aircraft gun destroyed

1 Armor company and 1 infantry battalion annihilated.
551 Iraqi civilian casualties (19 dead, 515 injured, 17 unspecified)
Most civilian casualties resulted from Coalition cluster bombing of Al Hillah


The Battle of Al Hillah was an armed military confrontation between military elements of the Coalition Provisional Authority and Iraq during the 2003 Invasion of Iraq.

Prior to the Iraq War, the ancient city of Al Hillah was home to numerous bases for the Iraqi Medina division of the Iraqi Republican Guard. As a main objective of the invasion of Iraq was to disable the Republican Guard, this made Al Hillah an important target for Coalition forces, as well as the fact that Al Hillah lay in the path of the planned Coalition advance on Najaf.[1]

Fighting in Al Hillah began on March 31, 2003, when two companies of the US 2nd Brigade Combat Team crossed into southern Al Hillah from Al Kifl, at approximately 0600 AST. There, US forces advanced along Highway 8, protected with air cover. At 0630, an American AH-64 came under fire from Iraqi soldiers entrenched in bunkers, and by 0640 American soldiers were engaged in combat with Iraqi infantry. What followed was intensely fierce urban combat as Coalition forces advanced into Al Hillah, under fire from Republican Guard soldiers and Iraqi infantry.[2]

After nearly 15 minutes of intense gun battle, US ground units halted near the campus of Babylon Community College, where they exchanged small arms and artillery fire with two entrenched Republican Guard infantry battalions, two artillery batteries, and extensive air defense systems. For five hours, Coalition forces were engaged in close combat fighting, at times so fierce that the American M1 Abrams tanks couldn't aim their machine guns low enough to engage Iraqi troops. As fighting raged, Apache helicopters conducted numerous attack runs and fire missions on Iraqi defenses until all their weaponry and nearly all their fuel had been expended. 8 Apaches returned to their base damaged, with repair teams reported to have been pulling unexploded RPG's out of the skins of the helicopters. Many pilots had been injured, and one seriously injured pilot later received a Purple Heart for wounds he sustained during the battle.[2]

At 1730 hours AST, US Colonel Joseph Anderson ordered Coalition forces to withdraw. One US soldier had been killed in the battle, but the fighting had cost the Iraqis hundreds of soldiers, one Republican Guard infantry battalion, one armored company, two field artillery batteries, and one antiaircraft battery.[2]

Following the withdraw, Coalition aircraft launched an assault on the remaining defenses in Al Hillah. Numerous cluster bombs were dropped, causing military and civilian casualties. Following the bombing, Coalition forces advanced into Al Hillah and captured the city by the end of April 1, encountering sparse resistance. With Al Hillah captured, Coalition forces were clear to advance towards Najaf. Small pockets of resistance, composed mostly of Iraqi irregulars, continued to hold out in Al Hillah until April 11, but nearly all Iraqi military resistance in the city had been annihilated and the Republican Guard no longer posed a serious threat to Coalition forces.[2]

References

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