Special Forces soldiers received thirteen Bronze Stars, and two Silver Stars, for exceptional performance during a battle with 150 Iraqi troops last April. Two of the soldiers also received Purple Hearts. Operating in northern Iraq alongside Kurdish militiamen, they encountered a force of Iraqis equipped with armored personnel carriers and tanks. Quickly unloading and firing two Javelin missiles, then going at it with assault rifles, .50 caliber machine-guns and grenade launchers, the American troops spent several hours fighting the determined Iraqis before killing or driving them off. The soldiers were from the 3rd Special Forces Group, which specializes in countries in the Caribbean and West Africa. Although the 5th Special Forces Group covers the Middle East and Afghanistan, troops from other Groups were sent to Iraq to participate in the largest special operations campaign the United States had ever conducted. Many of these Special Forces troops are now returning to the United States, where awards for outstanding battlefield experience are being awarded. Since the Special Forces had no reporters embedded, many of their battles have gone unreported to the general public. But the public award of decorations for bravery includes distribution of citations that include details of these battles.