Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Aussie soldiers in massive Iraq ambush

Sasha Uzunov reports:

Australian soldiers from the Townsville unit 2RAR have killed up to 20 Iraqi insurgents after they were forced to fight their way out of an ambush with up to 150 insurgents yesterday. Soldiers from Alpha Company 2RAR are callling it the biggest shoot-out since Vietnam.

No Australians suffered casualties. Australian soldiers were on a routine patrol, north of their base Camp Smithy, in a town called Samawah. Soldiers were travelling in three Bushmaster vehicles when they were fired upon by RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenades).

One participant said that he saw hundreds of bullet rounds flying past him. "One Sergeant was being fired at and miracalously the bullets kept landing at his feet," the soldier said. "Another soldier was hit by an RPG round and we fought he was killed but luckily the RPG round hit a mud wall which absorbed the impact."

2RAR soldiers contacted me to tell their side of the story in case it was ignored and highlight inadequate equipment. Soldiers complained that the Bushmaster vehicles did not have adequate armour. The insurgents are believed to have numbered at least 150, 20 od whom were killed.

One soldier said he managed to look inside a building where the shots were coming from. "I saw at least a hundred or so bad guys inside and it was like a Christmas tree, with so much lights and flashes from the Kalashnikov rifles and RPGs going off."

United States Air Force jets F16s were called to provide bombing runs on the insurgents but were called off by Australian commanders on the spot for fear of Australian soldiers being too close. The ambush was intense and lasted about 20 minutes with the Australians withdrawing safely back to base.

The insurgents were well armed and well trained and they had well prepapred defensive positions when they ambushed the Australians near a swamp and raliway track. There were many Iraqi civilians near the place of combat but the Australians were disciplined and held their fire.

Copyright 2006, Sasha Uzunov

Sasha Uzunov is a freelance photo journalist and former Australian soldier.


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