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Battle of Samawah
Part of 2003 Invasion of Iraq
US soldiers watch Iraqi paramilitary headquarter's burn Samawah, Iraq April 2003.jpg
Soldier from B company 2/325th watch an Iraqi paramilitary unit's headquarters burn during an assault on Samawah's north side April 4th 2003.
DateMarch 30 - April 4, 2003
LocationSamawah, Iraq
Result U.S. victory
Iraq Iraq United States United States
Commanders and leaders
Iraq Lt. Gen. Yahya[1] United States Gen. Charles Swannack
Elements of the Saddam Fedayeen, Iraqi Republican Guard and Iraqi Army 2nd Brigade, U.S. 82nd Airborne Division with 1-41st Infantry and 2-70th Armor, 1st Armored Division
Casualties and losses
38 killed
23 captured[2]
1 killed
6 wounded [3]

The Battle of Samawah took place during the 2003 invasion of Iraq as American troops fought to clear the city of Iraqi forces. The city had been bypassed during the advance on Baghdad, leaving the task of clearing it to American paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Divisionwith mechanized infantry and armor provided by units of the 1-41st Infantry and 2-70th Armor Battalions.

Before the battle

As the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division advanced northwards to Baghdad, they avoided getting bogged down in urban combat by bypassing heavily defended Iraqi towns. Keeping to the south of the Euphrates River, they planned to cross the river directly south of Baghdad, in the Karbala Gap.

Outside of Samawah from March 22 - March 25, the 3rd Infantry Division made contact with Iraqi forces outside Samawah, using artillery and airstrikes. Iraqi forces attacked the American armored columns and were slaughtered. It is estimated that 120-160 Iraqis died in this action, in which no Americans were killed.[2]

The city was bypassed and did not seriously impede the 3rd Infantry Division's advance on Baghdad, but irregular forces based inside the city staged attacks on American supply lines. On March 25, the 2nd Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division received the order to clear Samawah and by March 28 they had re-deployed to Talil Air Base in southern Iraq.[4]


The 2nd Brigade reached Samawah at 3:00 AM on March 30, expecting to assault a trench line on the eastern outskirts of the town. Instead, they discovered a sand berm surrounding a landfill, which was not defended by enemy forces. At dawn, the Americans began to advance towards the cement factory and received heavy small arms and RPG fire. A sharp firefight developed between the Americans hiding behind the berms in the landfill and the Iraqi forces around the factory. An Iraqi sniper fired from the top of the factory's smokestack until an American soldier fired a TOW missile into the smokestack, collapsing the structure. Lacking smoke shells for their mortars in order to screen their movements, American forces were unable to advance and pulled back to the east. OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters arrived and attacked enemy mortar and RPG teams, and destroyed several technical vehicles. At around 3:00 PM, Navy F/A-18 Hornets arrived on station and bombed a warehouse attached to the cement factory. Fighting around the cement factory died down at nightfall.[4]

That night, the 2nd Battalion of the 325th Infantry Regiment launched a feint attack against the bridges in the town over the Euphrates River. The purpose was to draw the attention of Iraqi Republican Guard forces on the other side of the river, preventing them from attacking the 3rd ID's rear areas and fixing their positions so they could be destroyed by American air power. At the start of the assault, A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft and 105 mm howitzers bombarded the north bank of the Euphrates. 2nd Battalion then attacked, seizing the bridges, crossing the river, and establishing a bridgehead on the north bank. Having achieved their objectives, the battalion pulled back at dawn. During this operation, an SUV attempted to run across the bridge at the Americans. After being hit with fire from a .50 caliber machine gun, the vehicle exploded into a fireball. It had been loaded with propane tanks for use as a suicide car bomb.[3] The rest of the day saw only light fighting and the exchange of mortar fire.[4]

At 7:00 PM on April 2, 1st Battalion of the 325th Infantry Regiment launched an attack on the cement factory with the support of an AC-130 gunship.[4] They took the factory unopposed. Over the next two days, 2nd Brigade cleared the rest of the city, including an assault on the headquarters of an Iraqi paramilitary group on April 4.[5] Rather than taking and holding ground, the Americans launched probing attacks into the city, engaged enemy forces, and then pulled back. Airstrikes were used against the Ba'ath Party Headquarters, a school used as a headquarters building, and a soccer field used as a rallying point. A hospital was also being used as a headquarters by Iraqi forces, however this was not bombed due to civilians in the area. By April 4, resistance had ceased and the city was declared cleared.[3]


External links

Further reading

  • Zinsmeister, Karl (2004). Boots on the Ground: A Month with the 82nd Airborne in the Battle for Iraq. St. Martin's Paperbacks. ISBN 031299608X. 

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