March 29, This day during the Iraq War

March 29, 2008 – The Battle of Basra In the early hours of the morning a US air strike on the city killed eight Iraqi civilians, including 2 women and a child, according to Iraqi police. The Coalition spokesman, Major Brad Leighton, denied this report, saying an AC-130 gunship strafed heavily armed militants on the rooftops of three buildings, killing 16 militants. Major Leighton also reported the targets were identified by special operations forces before the attack. According to a US military statement, the strike occurred during an Iraqi special forces operation in western Basra to “disrupt criminal activities and capture criminal leaders” in a “known criminal stronghold”. In addition, 6 Insurgents were killed by the Iraqi special forces after being engaged by small arms fire and RPGs at the target building. 2 Iraqi soldiers were wounded and a vehicle damaged during the operation. UK artillery based at Basra airport fired 155mm shells into the city at a militia mortar position which had been firing at Iraqi security forces. By this point the Iraqi military offensive against the city was faltering in the face of stiff resistance as the 72-hour ultimatum by the government passed and the militants refused to surrender. Reports of defecting and deserting soldiers and policemen were circulating and the Mahdi Army confirmed that seven American-made Humvees were given to them by sympathisers within the Iraqi army. An Iraqi Army battalion commander and two other Iraqi soldiers were killed during the night by a roadside bomb in central Basra. Iraq’s defense minister, Qadir Obeidi, stated that “We were surprised by a very strong resistance that made us change our plans.”

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