Man praying at the al-Rasul mosque in Fallujah (AFP)
Responding to the predicted outcry over the attack on the Fallujah mosque, American Marine officials have pointed out that the mujahedin were firing at them from the Abdul Aziz al-Kubaysi mosque.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – U.S. Marines on Wednesday defended their decision to attack a mosque compound in the Iraqi town of Falluja saying the fact insurgents were firing from inside meant it lost its status as a protected structure.
“U.S. Marines observed anti-Coalition Forces today firing from the Haj Musheen Abdul Aziz al-Kubaysi mosque complex in Falluja,” the Marines said in a statement.
“In order to gain access to the compound housing the mosque, Marines used air support to breach a wall located several hundred yards away from the actual mosque structure.”
The statement said there was no damage to the actual mosque. It said one insurgent was killed and that there were no reports of civilian casualties. Iraqis on the ground said at least 25 people had been killed.
The statement said the mosque had been used throughout the day to target Marines battling insurgents in Falluja. Guerrillas fired rocket-propelled grenades and small arms from inside the compound.