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Battle of Samarra
Part of the Iraq War
Smoke rises from near the Golden Mosque during the battle of Samarra, October 1, 2004.
DateOctober 1–3, 2004
LocationSamarra, Iraq
Result U.S. and Iraqi victory
Iraqi insurgents
Flag of al-Qaeda in Iraq.svgJama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad
United States United States
Flag of Iraq (2004–2008).svg Iraq
Units involved
United States 2nd Brigade of the U.S. 1st Infantry Division
Flag of Iraq (2004–2008).svg 7th Iraqi Army Battalion
Flag of Iraq (2004–2008).svg 202nd Iraqi National Guard Battalion
Flag of Iraq (2004–2008).svg Iraqi 36th Commando Battalion
500-1,000[1] United States 3,000 troops
Iraq 2,000 troops
Casualties and losses
127 killed, 60 wounded, 128 captured [2][3] 1 killed (U.S.)[4]
20 civilians killed, 61 wounded[2]

The Battle of Samarra, also called Operation Baton Rouge, took place in 2004 during the Iraq War. The city of Samarra in central Iraq had fallen under the control of insurgents shortly after insurgents had seized control of Fallujah and Ramadi. In preparation for an offensive to retake Fallujah, on October 1, 5,000 American and Iraqi troops assaulted Samarra and secured the city after three days of fighting.

Losing Control

During the month of September, negotiations with local commanders produced a city council which was to govern the city. However, insurgents soon seized control and the agreement fell apart. The city government was infiltrated by insurgents and the city came under the control of the Iraqi insurgency. Fighters loyal to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi roamed the streets, confiscating music cassette tapes, which were condemned as haram. Attacks on American and Iraqi forces in the vicinity of the city greatly increased.[5] American commanders decided to re-take the city as a precursor to the upcoming battle to retake Fallujah.[6]


On the morning of October 1, the Iraqi 36th Commando Battalion seized the Golden Mosque inside the city, capturing 25 insurgents and uncovering weapons caches. The Golden Mosque is considered the third-holiest shrine in Shia Islam, and any damage to it would have aroused significant controversy. Other Iraqi troops secured the Great Mosque of Samarra, a valued historic and cultural site.[2]

That same day, Iraqi troops secured the main bridge across the Tigris River. American forces encountered insurgents transporting and unloading weapons using speedboats and opened fire, destroying the boats.[7]

American and Iraqi forces were supported by M1 Abrams tanks, M2 Bradley armored fighting vehicles, one platoon of cannon artillery (155mm M109A6 Paladin Howitzers) from the North Carolina Army National Guard, and the 1st ID 2nd BCT, primarily the 1-26nd INF Task Force that was responsible for securing Samarra. Additional forces from 1-18th IN TF, 1-77th AR TF, and 1-4 Cav supported this operation. They focused on capturing major government and police buildings. After heavy street fighting, American and Iraqi forces controlled about half the city after the first day of fighting.[8] CNN reporter Jane Arraf entered the city with US troops and covered the battle live. Fighting continued for two more days before the entire city was secured.[1]

Around 90 weapons caches were captured during the course of the operation.[5]


A soldier in the turret of a Humvee fires a .50-caliber machine gun at the enemy in Samarra, Iraq, Oct. 1, 2004.


After the battle, American forces began a program to provide security, build up the local police forces, and spent tens of millions of dollars on public works projects and hospitals.[2][5] These initiatives brought some measure of security to the city, however, this did not prevent the bombing of the Golden Mosque in February 2006.


External links

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