Featured News

Marines find signs of insurgents during souk operations

3 Oct 2006 | Cpl. Brian Reimers

Marines recently spent most of their day searching and clearing the Souk District in the city. The district has a reputation for attacks on Coalition Forces by anti-Iraqi Forces.

Marines from C Company, 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5 helped clear the district during an operation in Fallujah’s Souk and uncovered a weapons cache during the search.

The Souk District is primarily made up of small businesses and residential blocks. Local Iraqis use the area constantly for consumer goods, which range from items sold at electronic stores to the produce available at fruit stands.

Hundreds of buildings, many several stories tall, lie in the district woven with narrow side streets and tight alleys. People flood the streets here on a daily basis to buy their necessary goods, but insurgents use the area to their advantage.

“It’s a very complex part of the city, a maze of shops and stores,” said Lt. Col. Christopher A. Landro, the battalion’s commander from Kennesaw, Ga.  “You could literally turn a corner and be lost in an area you had never seen before.”

The Marines moved into the area before most Iraqis were awake. After shops opened, they moved into sectors in the heart of the souk. Although many were surprised to see the Marines coming out of buildings, they knew why they were there.

“When we go into the souk it is almost a guarantee that we will come in contact with insurgents,” said 19-year-old Lance Cpl. Frederick O. Lohse, an assaultman, from Ridgefield, Conn.

Fighting off insurgents is a common event here, but the Marines were looking for more than the insurgents themselves. They were searching for anything the insurgents could hide in the area.

Marines located a small weapons cache in a glassware shop in the early stages of the operation. The owner was not around, and the Marines cut the door’s lock, finding ammunition, ski masks and false documents.

“We have found this kind of stuff in some weird places before, and this was no surprise for us,” said 23-year-old Lance Cpl. Angelo Vella, a machine gunner, from Lincoln Park, N.J.

Those who were present met the Marines at their doors, while others sat in front of their homes to watch the forces conduct the operation.

Locks were cut and stairs were climbed, leaving no area uncovered by the Marines.

“That is what is key about these kinds of operations,” said 46-year-old Landro. “We can get into every nook and cranny to search.”

Although the Marines found only one cache, they sent a message to the insurgents who operate in the area.

“We showed them that we can go anywhere that we need to go to conduct our missions,” said 30-year-old Cpl. Marshall R. Collins, fire team leader, from West Hartford, Conn.  “The insurgents want to keep us out, and we showed them that you can’t keep us out.”