The Haditha Dam and surrounding areas were initially secured by U.S. troops in April 2003 as part of the invasion of Iraq. An attack on the dam would have severely flooded towns along the Euphrates downstream from Haditha, as well as eliminating an important source of electricity.
In 2004, U.S. troops left a local police force in charge of the city and insurgents rounded up dozens of local police officers and publicly executed them in a soccer stadium.
In May 2005, U.S. forces launched Operation New Market in Haditha against the insurgents controlling the city. However, resistance continued. On August 1, 2005, an ambush killed 6 United States Marine snipers in the city; on August 3, a roadside bomb killed another 14 Marines and their interpreter.
According to an August 2005 report by The Guardian, the town was controlled by insurgents, with US forces making only fleeting visits every few months. Like Al-Qa'im, it had come under a Taliban-like rule, with Western-style items banned and insurgents collecting the salaries of government employees. This insurgent dominance has continued into 2006.
The mayor of Haditha in November 2005 was Emad Jawad Hamza.
On 19 November 2005, 24 Iraqi noncombatants, including 11 women and children, were reported to have been killed by 12 Marines from 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines. The US military is investigating these claims, a captain and a lieutenant colonel have been relieved of duty (another captain was relieved on the same day but not for the same incident; see http://www.mudvillegazette.com/archives/005400.html). Some allege the massacre was in retribution for an incident earlier in the day in which US Marine Lance Corporal Miguel Terrazas was killed in a roadside bomb attack on Marines from Kilo Company. In August 2006 a commission reviewing the killings found probable cause for charging the Marines. The same day, one of the accused Marines sued Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) for libel because of Murtha's characterization of the incident saying the Marines killed the civilians "in cold blood." However, by law, members of Congress are generally immune from such lawsuits.
A report, declassified by October 2007, shows that Marine Corps intelligence operatives have been notified of a plot by Al-Qaeda to demonize the mission by an informant named Muhannad Hassan Hamadi. The informant was snared by 3/1 Marines on December 11 2005 and decided to cooperate.
A court martial on Wednesday acquitted a US Marine for any role in covering up the deaths of 24 civilians in Haditha in Iraq in 2005, while charges were dropped against five other marines in the affair. Lieutenant Andrew Grayson, 27, was declared "not guilty on all charges" by a jury, said a spokesman for the Camp Pendleton military base in southern California where the hearing started on May 28. Grayson had been charged with making false statements and attempting to fraudulently separate from the Marine Corps. He was also charged with obstruction of justice, but the military judge dismissed this charge Tuesday.
Charges of murder against squad leader Frank Wuterich were changed to the lesser offense of manslaughter. Wuterich faces trial later this year. Lt Colonel Jeffrey Chessani, the highest ranking officer accused over the incident, had been charged with dereliction of duty and violation of a lawful order. On June 17, 2008 Military Judge Colonel Steven Folsom dismissed all charges against Lt Colonel Jeffrey Chessani on the grounds that General James Mattis, who approved the filing of charges against Chessani, was improperly influenced by an investigator probing the incident. The ruling was without prejudice, which allows the prosecution to refile.
Marine units rotated in and out of the area detaining numerous persons. Iraqi Police were firmly established by 2007 and violence fell. In contrast to previous years, the Ramadan period of 2007 came and went in Haditha with no insurgent attacks.
In the next few months two bridges across the Euphrates were rebuilt, the area hospital was reopened and re-equipped, the K3 Oil refinery south of the area was brought back online, and life began to take on the air of normalcy.
Haditha is officially a political district subordinate to the Al Anbar Province. The Haditha District consist of the Sub-Districts of Haditha [City], the Haqlaniyah Sub-District, and the Barwannah Sub-District. Each district is governed by a Mayor and a Sub-District Council. The twenty member sub-district councils elect one of their own to serve as the Council Chairman. They also employ other municipal managers such as a Municipal Engineer.
The Haditha District is of growing importance in respect to Iraq's energy infrastructure. See the Haditha Dam article for details. Natural political competition within the district exists between the "Haditha City" and Haqlaniyah Sub District Councils.
The Haditha District is served by a hospital that has some modern equipment and physicians who are adept at stabilizing severe trauma cases and addressing routine illnesses and injuries. Serious, chronic, or congenital health problems usually require moving the patient to a larger hospital in Ramadi, Baghdad, or Syria.
Situated less than a days drive from Syria, many citizens of Haditha have deep connections with persons living in Syria. Commercial traffic entering Iraq from Syria find the first government fuel station past their point of entry in Haqlaniyah.
The riverbank in the Haditha District is occupied by well irrigated farm plots that produce a large amount of food. Substantial sheep and goat flocks are also kept in the area. Further food sources come from fishing the river or the nearby Lake Qadisiya. Even at the height of the war, according to locals, food was one thing they never lacked.
Entering the Haditha Sub District, one is likely to see municipal signs illustrated with a water wheel. These are displayed as a reference to the area's history. Locals suggest that the ancient looking structures on or near the Euphrates River were part of a water wheel structure that dates back to a period of Roman occupation. They claim locals built water wheels to establish a limited aqueduct system similar to the one that served Rome. Whether or not soldiers or citizens of the Roman Empire ever resided in Haditha or not is an open question.
The insurgency in Haditha was taken further than anywhere else in Iraq. Anti-Iraqi Government forces established attempted to replicate many municipal services, establish courts, and of course back up their laws and institutions with force. Significant events that appeared adverse to Coalition Forces, such as the Haditha Trials, the loss of 6 Marine Snipers, and the widely reported destruction of a Marine vehicle carrying over a dozen men were all squarley placed in the public eye.
Less well publicized has been the ability of local Iraqis to keep their hydro-electric dam functioning, to re-open a local oil refinery, to rebuild two dams over the Euphrates River, man a large (and apparently effective) police force, establish regular ambulance service, re-equip and run their hospital, open an asphalt factory, re-open schools with basic refurbishments complete, fill the offices of their local government, expand their local markets, begin rebuidling a local marble factory, and move on despite a war that set some in the community against one another. Despite casualties, Marines inside the Haditha District in 2008 serve in a community where little evidence for the long term success of Anti-Iraqi forces exist. Local leaders make very favorable public comments about Marines presence and their contribution to progress.
Sound of battle was all he heard: Capt. James Kimber's radio brought news of fighting in Haditha. Nothing unusual, it seemed.
Jun 03, 2006; Byline: Stephen J. Hedges Jun. 3--CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Marine Capt. James Kimber, now relieved of his command, remembers...