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U.S. and Iraqi forces repelled attacks by some 50 insurgents in the battered city of Ramadi on Monday, officials said late Monday night. The attacks targeted U.S. Marines, Iraqi forces, a mosque and the Ramadi Government Center.

Attackers used car bombs, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, heavy machine-gun and small-arms fire in the attacks, which occurred shortly after noon and appeared “closely coordinated,” Marine officials said.

Marines in one area of the city said they were attacked from the central Fatemat mosque. They returned fire with a 120 mm tank round and “several” 7.62 mm machine-gun rounds into the mosque’s minaret, “after which fire from the mosque ceased.”

“This is the fourth time in three-and-a-half weeks that the Ramadi Government Center has received attacks from the Fatemat Mosque,” Lt. Col. Stephen M. Neary, commander of 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, said in a military news release.

“I’m extremely proud of my Marines — they only used the proportionate amount of force necessary to repel the insurgent attack.”

U.S. military forces have said they receive repeated fire from insurgents hiding in mosques, but they respond carefully out of sensitivity.

“Coalition forces take significant measures to respect all religious sites,” Marine spokesman Lt. Col. Bryan Salas said. “But we always maintain the inherent right of self-defense.”

There were no U.S. casualties reported in the 90-minute attack, the second in the past 10 days.

According to The Associated Press, the attack began when two car bombers sped at the government complex. Marines fired flares at the vehicles, then fired .50-caliber machine guns from a rooftop. The vehicles turned back, but exploded.

At the same time, other insurgents fired mortars and rocket-propelled grenades at U.S. positions.


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