Battle of Samarra (2004)

The Battle of Samarra, also called Operation Baton Rouge, took place in 2004 during the Iraq War. The city of Samarra in central Iraq had fallen under the control of insurgents shortly after insurgents had seized control of Fallujah and Ramadi. In preparation for an offensive to retake Fallujah, on 1 October, 5,000 American and Iraqi troops assaulted Samarra and secured the city after three days of fighting.

Battle of Samarra
Part of the Iraq War
Smoke rises from near the Golden Mosque during the battle of Samarra, 1 October 2004.
Date1–3 October 2004
Result U.S. and Iraqi victory
Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad
Flag of the Ba'ath Party.svg Ba'ath Party Loyalists[1]
 United States
Commanders and leaders
Haitham Shaker Badri
Najam Takhi Nisani
Hammadi Takhi Nisani
Rafiq Rahmani
Hadi Hussein Kaj
Zaidan Mohammad Haji
Hazim Mohammad Haji
Husain Ali Muzaibar
Ibrahim Abbas Harbouni
Alaa Ibrahim Abbas
Iraq Adnan Thabit
Iraq Fadhil Barwari
Units involved

United States 1st Infantry Division

  • 2nd Brigade CT

United States 25th Infantry Division

  • 2nd Brigade CT
Iraq 7th Iraqi Army Battalion
Iraq 202nd Iraqi National Guard Battalion
Iraq Iraqi 36th Commando Battalion
500-1,000[2] United States 3,000
Iraq 2,000
Casualties and losses
127 killed
60 wounded
128 captured[3][4]
United States 1 killed [5]
20 civilians killed, 61 wounded[3]

Losing controlEdit

During the month of September, negotiations with local commanders produced a city council which was to govern the city. However, insurgents soon seized control and the agreement fell apart. The city government was infiltrated by insurgents and the city came under the control of the Iraqi insurgency. Fighters loyal to the insurgents, including but not particularly Abu Musab Zarqawi, roamed the streets, confiscating music cassette tapes, which were condemned as haram. Attacks on American and Iraqi forces in the vicinity of the city greatly increased.[6] American commanders decided to re-take the city as a precursor to the upcoming battle to retake Fallujah.[7]


A soldier in the turret of a Humvee fires a .50-caliber machine gun at the enemy in Samarra, Iraq, 1 October 2004.

On the morning of 1 October, the Iraqi 36th Commando Battalion seized the Golden Mosque inside the city, capturing 25 insurgents and uncovering weapons caches. The Golden Mosque is considered the third-holiest shrine in Shia Islam, and any damage to it would have aroused significant controversy. Other Iraqi troops secured the Great Mosque of Samarra, a valued historic and cultural site.[3]

That same day, American troops with 1-26th INF along with 1-14 INF secured the main bridge across the Tigris River. American forces encountered insurgents transporting and unloading weapons using speedboats and opened fire, destroying the boats.[8]

American and Iraqi forces were supported by M1 Abrams tanks, M2 Bradley armored fighting vehicles, one platoon of cannon artillery (155mm M109A6 Paladin howitzers) from the North Carolina Army National Guard, 25th ID 2nd BCT, 1-14th INF and the 1st ID 2nd BCT, C Co. 2/108 INF 27th BCT (NYARNG), B Co. 2/108 INF 27th BCT (NYARNG), 1-26th INF Task Force that was responsible for securing Samarra. Additional forces from 1-18th IN TF, 1-77th AR TF, 1-4 Cav supported this operation and smoke support from 12th Chemical Co. They focused on capturing major government and police buildings. After heavy street fighting, American and Iraqi forces controlled about half the city after the first day of fighting.[9] CNN reporter Jane Arraf entered the city with US troops and covered the battle live. Fighting continued for two more days before the entire city was secured.[2]

Around 90 weapons caches were captured during the course of the operation.[6]


After the battle, American forces began a program to provide security, build up the local police forces, and spent tens of millions of dollars on public works projects and hospitals.[3][6] These initiatives brought some measure of security to the city, however, this did not prevent the bombing of the Golden Mosque in February 2006.


  1. ^ Wright, Dr. Donald P, and Reese, Colonel Timothy R. On Point II: Transition to the New Campaign: The United States Army in Operation Iraqi Freedom, May 2003-January 2005, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013 ISBN 1494406470 ISBN 978-1494406479
  2. ^ a b John Pike. "Operation Baton Rouge". Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d "Showdown in Samarra". Fox News. 11 October 2004. Archived from the original on 20 October 2012. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8 September 2005. Retrieved 7 August 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ a b c The fight for Samarra: full-spectrum operations in modern warfare - Military Review
  7. ^ Ware, Michael (3 October 2004). "Appointment in Samarra". Time. Archived from the original on 25 October 2012. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  8. ^ " News Article: U.S., Iraqi Troops Strike Samarra Insurgents". Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  9. ^ "U.S.: 109 insurgents killed in major offensive". Archived from the original on 11 May 2008.

External linksEdit