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Marines with Company G, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment patrol Monday through Bani Dahir, Iraq, which is just south of Haditha in Anbar province. Marines continually patrol the city to maintain visibility in the area.
Marines with Company G, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment patrol Monday through Bani Dahir, Iraq, which is just south of Haditha in Anbar province. Marines continually patrol the city to maintain visibility in the area. (By Steve Mraz / S&S)
Marines with Company G, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment patrol Monday through Bani Dahir, Iraq, which is just south of Haditha in Anbar province. Marines continually patrol the city to maintain visibility in the area.
Marines with Company G, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment patrol Monday through Bani Dahir, Iraq, which is just south of Haditha in Anbar province. Marines continually patrol the city to maintain visibility in the area. (By Steve Mraz / S&S)
Marine Cpl. Ralph Scales, left, leads his squad, with Company G, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, through a back alley Monday in Bani Dahir, Iraq, just south of Haditha in Anbar province. Marines continually patrol the city to maintain visibility.
Marine Cpl. Ralph Scales, left, leads his squad, with Company G, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, through a back alley Monday in Bani Dahir, Iraq, just south of Haditha in Anbar province. Marines continually patrol the city to maintain visibility. (By Steve Mraz / S&S)
An Iraqi boy snuggles next to Marine Lance Cpl. Craig Plutchak with Company G, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. The Marines patrolled Monday in the city of Bani Dahir, Iraq, which is just south of Haditha in Anbar province. Marines continually patrol the city to maintain visibility in the area.
An Iraqi boy snuggles next to Marine Lance Cpl. Craig Plutchak with Company G, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. The Marines patrolled Monday in the city of Bani Dahir, Iraq, which is just south of Haditha in Anbar province. Marines continually patrol the city to maintain visibility in the area. (By Steve Mraz / S&S)

BANI DAHIR, Iraq — Packs of barking dogs, foul smells and rocky back roads are the least of the worries for Marines on foot patrol through his city.

Marines with Company G, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment face a laundry list of potential threats.

Roadside bombs hidden amongst ubiquitous trash and rubble piles. Snipers on rooftops. Tripwires. Gunfire from insurgents hoping to get lucky with a few potshots. Kids paid by insurgents to hurl grenades over walls as Marines wind through narrow alleys. Insurgents strapped with concealed suicide-bomb vests.

It’s enough to induce stress just thinking about it, but the Marines out of Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, have been living it in Bani Dahir — an Anbar province city that hugs the Euphrates River — and other cities around Haditha since they arrived last fall.

The threats are real. Early in their deployment, the company lost three Marines to a massive roadside bomb in Bani Dahir. Just last week, at least two Marines from a different battalion were killed when a suicide bomber detonated himself in Barwana, which is just across the Euphrates from Bani Dahir.

To increase its presence and calm the situation in Bani Dahir, the Marines a few months ago established a combat outpost in the city that is sandwiched between Haditha and Haqlaniyah.

“Ever since vehicle traffic stopped, it’s been quiet,” said Lance Cpl. Robert Fresenius, 21, of Orange County, Calif. “Before, you couldn’t come over here without taking contact.”

The ramshackle house, which has dirt floors, no power and no running water, is an austere dwelling for the Marines.

“Cleaning ourselves with baby wipes is fine,” said Lance Cpl. Kyle Gianquinto, 19, of Tucson, Ariz. “It’s better than taking a cold shower.”

On Monday, Marines with Company G set out on a foot patrol through Bani Dahir. The Marines wound through the city’s streets, palm groves and back alleys before establishing an observation post at a home. The owner of the house made chai tea for the Marines before they resumed their patrol.

“We’re making sure we maintain a security presence in the area, prevent anti-Iraqi forces from planting improvised explosive devices and limit the enemy’s freedom of movement,” said Cpl. Ralph Scales, 20, of Tulsa, Okla.

Residents of the next house the Marines stopped at offered a table full of Iraqi food and more chai tea.

“This just goes to show that not everybody here is bad,” said Staff Sgt. Demetrius King, 33, of Washington, D.C.

By dusk, the Marines patrolled the Bani Dahir streets back to their combat outpost without incident. In just a few hours, under the cover of darkness, the Marines would hit the streets again.

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