Some serious terrorist scumbag a$$ kickin.
TALL AFAR, Iraq, Sept. 2 -- It was a clear and quiet dusk, with only the call to prayer echoing from minarets across this city, when a roadside bomb blasted an M1-A1 Abrams tank, shaking nearby buildings and filling the indigo sky with a plume of black smoke.
Crackling small-arms fire clanged off the damaged vehicle from an adjacent house. U.S. soldiers answered with increasingly violent volleys -- .50-caliber machine gun bursts, tank rounds and a TOW missile -- but the shots from inside the house kept coming. Finally, an ear-splitting succession of five rounds from the tank's big gun reduced the building to flaming rubble and lit the empty streets with white sparks from exploding power transformers.
In the largest urban assault since the siege of Fallujah last November, more than 5,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops entered this northern city before dawn Friday. But the 45-minute firefight at day's end suggested that the insurgents who have controlled much of Tall Afar for almost a year would not relinquish it easily.
"We knew they were going to fight," said Pfc. Johnny Lara, a machine gunner from Blue Platoon, Eagle Troop, 2nd Squadron of the Army's 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, who watched the clash with a reporter from a rooftop about 100 yards away. "Now it's a fight."
During the course of the day, at least 30 insurgents were killed as U.S. troops conducted house-to-house searches in the baking sun. Apache attack helicopters that circled the city of 250,000 all day killed 27 people, including eight who were attempting to conceal roadside bombs in old tires, commanders said. No American or Iraqi army casualties were reported.