Despite a loss, Iraqi unit continues to aid U.S. in Bya’a
August 13, 2008
BYA’A, Iraq — By next month, Iraqi army 1st Lt. Fasir Tallal would have been a married man. Now his fiancee is in mourning.
Tallal, 23, of the 5th Iraqi Army Division, was killed last week when a booby-trapped house exploded in a restive stretch of southern Diyala province between Baghdad and Baqouba.
Days later, Tallal’s unit moved away from the ill-fated area to block traffic outside Bya’a and stand by to clear homes not bombed in Sunday’s raid.
Leaders from U.S. Army’s 2nd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, out of Vilseck, Germany, were pondering late Monday whether to bombard the rest of the village.
Witnessing the recent house blast has shaken up soldiers in the 175-member battalion, Iraqi leaders said.
"Of course it caused some fears in them, but things have come back to normal," said Iraqi Maj. Emad, the executive officer of Tallal’s battalion, through a translator.
The Iraqi unit’s ability to detect and disarm explosives is weak. They mainly rely on the U.S. military to provide technical assistance.
"The help is limited on our side," Emad said. "If we continue [without support] we’re going to have more casualties."
On Monday, Iraqi National Police took it upon themselves to start combing its section of the village. The expected danger was still present, with three policemen injured by two separate roadside bombs.
First Lt. Ahmed Talib received minor shrapnel wounds to his left hand and leg. He wrapped up his hand in gauze and continued the mission.
"I have to do my job," the 34-year-old said smiling. "I’m not worried about the bombs anymore. I’m used to them."
His partner, 1st Lt. Kareem Shshaik, said his crew has uncovered 10 bombs and disarmed eight. Most of them were found next to buildings demolished the day before.