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Lake Tharthar raid
Part of the Post-invasion Iraq
DateMarch 23, 2005
LocationLake Tharthar, Iraq
Result Iraqi security forces victory

Flag of Iraq.svg New Iraqi Army

United States US Army
Secret Army of Islam[1]
Baath Party loyalists
Al-Qaeda in Iraq
Other Iraqi insurgents
15-20 commandos 120 Estimated
Casualties and losses
7 killed, 6 wounded[2] 84 killed (estimated), 1 captured (unconfirmed) [3]

The Lake Tharthar raid was an Iraqi commando raid on a Secret Army of Islam[4] training camp at Lake Tharthar on March 23, 2005.


The training camp, located in a remote region near Lake Tharthar, which is next to the Sunni Anbar and Salahuddin provinces, was the largest guerrilla training camp that had been discovered in the war by then, according to Iraqi officials. The camp was shared by Ba’ath party loyalists and members of Al-Qaeda. The insurgents had planned to attack the city of Samarra, which was located some 55 kilometers east of the lake, with a large number of car bombs. No insurgents were captured alive or dead. The remote site contained ramshackle huts and tents, along with boats used by insurgents to cross the lake. The camp was well defended with guard towers, bunkers and barbed wire. There was an estimated 120 insurgents in the camp at the time.

The raid

Between 15 and 20 Iraqi commandos as well as 9 American Cavalry Scouts and 1 medic from 3/69 Armor Battalion/1BCT/3ID and one local national interpreter were involved in the raid. As the commando led convoy approached the camp the commandos encountered heavy fire from an estimated 80 insurgents. The Iraqi commandos suffered casualties from heavy direct and indirect enemy fire. The American force then returned fire to cover the extraction of the commando wounded. Combat medic specialist Ray Michael Fuhrmann II provided aid to the commando wounded under heavy enemy fire while the American military radioed for helicopter and combat support. The battle lasted one hour. It was estimated that some 30 insurgents managed to escape during the fighting by boat across the lake bringing all killed or wounded insurgents with them. No insurgent was captured nor was confirmed to have been killed. Helicopter pilots observed some twenty boats escaping during the raid. This was because the assault force conducted the raid prematurely. The area was not surrounded by security forces until after the fighters made their escape.[citation needed]


Seven Iraqi commandos were killed in the raid and six were wounded. In estimated 84 insurgents were killed and the commandos said that they captured one Algerian. US Forces present however, were not able to confirm any captured enemy. After entering the camp, Iraqi commandos and U.S. intelligence officials found non-Iraqi passports, training publications, propaganda documents, weapons and ammunition. According to the papers found some of the insurgents were: Moroccans, Algerians, Sudanese, Saudi, Syrian and there was even one Egyptian. U.S. Army Combat Medic specialist Ray Michael Fuhrmann II (killed in action on 18 August 2005 in Samarra, Iraq) was awarded the Silver Star for his actions as the acting medic during the battle.

No bodies were found during the sweep by the U.S. Army, European journalists visited the camp the next day and found 30 to 40 insurgents still alive and well, the insurgents claimed only 11 dead in the raid. After reviewing footage of the raid, a coalition spokesman said that "somewhere between 11 and 80 lies an accurate number...the insurgent forces who fled...were able to recover their casualties and take them with them."[5]


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