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U.S. Forces Storm Into Western Fallujah

Old 11-08-04, 08:34 AM
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U.S. Forces Storm Into Western Fallujah

Yahoo stroy
By JIM KRANE, Associated Press Writer

NEAR FALLUJAH, Iraq - Backed by a barrage from warplanes and artillery, U.S. troops fought their way into the western outskirts of Fallujah on Monday, seizing a hospital and two bridges over the Euphrates River in the first stage of a major assault on the insurgent stronghold.

The U.S. military said Iraqi troops captured 38 people, including four foreigners when they swept into the first objective: Fallujah's main hospital, which the military and Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said was under insurgent control.

Iraqi soldiers stormed through the facility, blasting open doors and pulling handcuffed patients into the halls in search of gunmen.

Allawi said he had given the green light for international and Iraqi forces to launch the long-awaited offensive against Fallujah, considered the strongest bastion of Iraq (news - web sites)'s Sunni insurgents. "We are determined to clean Fallujah of terrorists," he said.

Allawi initially said 38 people were killed in the hospital seizure, but the U.S. military later said the people were captured.

Throughout the morning, artillery and mortars pounded targets in Fallujah and on its outskirts, and a U.S. jet swooped low to fire rockets at insurgent positions. An AC-130 gunship raked the city all night long with cannon fire, and and before dawn, four 500-pound bombs were dropped, raising orange fireballs over the city's rooftops.

Commanders said the toughest fight was yet to come: when American forces cross to the east bank of the Euphrates and enter the main part of Fallujah including the Jolan neighborhood where insurgent defenses are believed the strongest.

In the first foray across the river into Fallujah proper, Marines secured an apartment building in the northwestern corner of the city by noon, said Capt. Brian Heatherman, of the 3rd Battalion 1st Marine Regiment.

"The Marines have now gained a foothold in the city," said Heatherman, 32, from Laguna Niguel, Calif.

He said there were some Iraqi casualties as the troops seized the building, where Marines found an improvised bomb hanging above a doorway one of the many variety of booby traps they expect to come across in the urban battle.

Marine commanders have warned the offensive against Fallujah could bring the heaviest urban fighting since the Vietnam war. Some 10,000 U.S. Marines, Army soldiers and Iraqi forces are around Fallujah, where commanders estimate around 3,000 insurgents are dug in. More than half the civilian population of some 300,000 people is believed to have fled already.

U.S. and Iraqi commanders have vowed to stamp out Sunni Muslim guerrillas controlling Fallujah and other cities north and west of Baghdad ahead of vital January elections.

Allawi said that emergency measures would be imposed on Fallujah and Ramadi, another insurgent stronghold nearby, beginning at 6 p.m. Roads and government facilities in the two cities will be closed, all weapons will be banned, Iraq's borders with Syria and Jordan will be closed and Baghdad's international airport will be shut down for 48 hours.

Allawi's government announced on Sunday that it was imposing a 60-day state of emergency across Iraq except for the Kurdish-run north.

The U.S. military reported its first casualties of the offensive two Marines killed when their bulldozer flipped over into the Euphrates. Ten Iraqis were killed and 11 others injured during the overnight barrage in Fallujah, according to doctors.

Clerics in Fallujah denounced Iraqi troops participating in the assault, calling them the "occupiers' lash on their fellow countrymen."

"We swear by God that we will stand against you in the streets, we will enter your houses and we will slaughter you just like sheep," the clerics said in a statement.

The U.S military said insurgents had been in control of Fallujah General Hospital located on the west bank of the Euphrates and were "forcing the doctors there to release propaganda and false information."

It underlined in a statement that when hospitals "are used for military purposes they lose ... protected status."

While U.S. forces sealed off the area, Iraqi troops moved into the hospital "capturing four foreigners and killing 38 persons," Allawi said. Two of those captured were Moroccans, he said, adding, "We do not know whether (those killed) are Iraqis or not. They were stationed in the hospital in order to carry out terrorist actions."

Rifle-like crackles echoed through the building as the Iraqi troops used special tools, powered by .22 caliber blanks, to break open door locks.

During the siege of Fallujah last April, doctors at the hospital were a main source of reports about civilian casualties, which were reported in the hundreds. Those reports generated strong public outage in Iraq and elsewhere in the Arab world, prompting the Bush administration to call off the offensive. U.S. officials insisted the numbers were overblown.

Hospital director Dr. Salih al-Issawi said Monday he asked U.S. officers to allow doctors and ambulances go inside the main part of the city to help the wounded but they refused. There was no confirmation from the Americans.

Al-Issawi denounced the U.S. seizure. The Americans "thought that they would halt medical assistance to the resistance," he said by telephone to a reporter inside the city. "But they did not realize that the hospital does not belong to anybody, especially the resistance."

The offensive, launched after sundown Sunday, came after government negotiators reported the failure of last-minute peace talks. Allawi said Monday that "terrorists" in the city were not willing to make peace.

"We have no other option but to take the necessary measures to protect Iraqi people from these killers and liberate Fallujah," he said.

Allawi, a secular-minded Shiite Muslim, has faced strong pressure from within Iraq's minority Sunni community to avoid an all-out assault.

On Monday, the Association of Muslim Scholars, an influential Sunni clerics group, condemned the assault on Fallujah. The group has threatened to boycott elections.

"The attack on Fallujah is an illegal and illegitimate action against civilian and innocent people. We denounce this operation which will have a grave consequences on the situation in Iraq," said spokesman Mohammed Bashar al-Faidhi.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (news - web sites) and others have warned that a military offensive could trigger a wave of violence that would sabotage the January elections by alienating Sunnis, who form the core of the insurgency. About 60 percent of Iraq's 25 million people are Shiite.

Over the weekend, insurgents launched a wave of attacks in central Iraq in an apparent attempt to divert attention away from Fallujah. About 60 people were killed including two Americans soldiers and 75 injured.
____

Associated Press correspondents Tini Tran, Mariam Fam, Katarina Kratovac and Maggie Michael in Baghdad contributed to this report.

U.S. Marines of the 1st Division take position on the outskirts of Fallujah, Iraq (news - web sites), Monday, Nov. 8, 2004. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
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Old 11-08-04, 08:59 AM
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I hope this time they keep storming until they reach the eastern outskirts.
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Old 11-08-04, 09:02 AM
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A tight seal on the city will be key. These bastards like to pull back and out of trouble when things heat up. If they get it right, hopefully they won't have to be doing this size operation in Fallujah in the future.
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Old 11-08-04, 09:08 AM
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"We swear by God that we will stand against you in the streets, we will enter your houses and we will slaughter you just like sheep," the clerics said in a statement.
someone's been listening to too much jesse jackson....
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Old 11-08-04, 10:38 AM
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About time.. they should have done this months ago.
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Old 11-08-04, 10:40 AM
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Originally posted by General Zod
About time.. they should have done this months ago.
Was this delayed because of the election? It seems a little strange that it happened so abruptly after the election ended.
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Old 11-08-04, 10:44 AM
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Seizing the hospital first was a good move, because obviously insurgents were hiding out in there and bombing hospitals are frowned upon.
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Old 11-08-04, 10:48 AM
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I like this quote.

"We're going to start at one end of the city, and we're not going to stop until we get to the other," said Lt. Col. Pete Newell, a battalion commander from the U.S. Army's 1st Infantry Division.

"If there's anybody left when that happens, we're going to turn around and we're going to go back and finish it."
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Old 11-08-04, 10:58 AM
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Originally posted by dick_grayson
Was this delayed because of the election? It seems a little strange that it happened so abruptly after the election ended.
A lot of things were delayed becuase of the election so that it wouldn't look like the Bush administration was using these things for political gain. I believe they released a statement about this specifically regarding Fallujah at some point, though that may have come from a 3rd party source, not sure.
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Old 11-08-04, 11:04 AM
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Originally posted by dick_grayson
Was this delayed because of the election? It seems a little strange that it happened so abruptly after the election ended.
Not sure about the source, but this is the first one I found on google. Was reported elsewhere as well.

http://www.howardlabs.com/10-04/Bush...in%20Iraq.html

<B>Bush Administration Plans to Delay Major Assaults in Iraq</B>

By Mark Mazzetti, Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON The Bush administration will delay major assaults on rebel-held cities in Iraq until after U.S. elections in November, say administration officials, mindful that large-scale military offensives could affect the U.S. presidential race.

Although American commanders in Iraq have been buoyed by recent successes in insurgent-held towns such as Samarra and Tall Afar, administration and Pentagon officials say they will not try to retake cities such as Fallujah and Ramadi -- where insurgents' grip is strongest and U.S. military casualties could be the greatest -- until after Americans vote in what is likely to be a close election.

"When this election's over, you'll see us move very vigorously," said one senior administration official involved in strategic planning, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Once you're past the election, it changes the political ramifications" of a large-scale offensive, the official said. "We're not on hold right now. We're just not as aggressive."

Any delay in pacifying Iraq's most troublesome cities, however, could alter the dynamics of a different election -- the one in January, when Iraqis are to elect members of a national assembly.

(more)
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Old 11-08-04, 11:07 AM
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Originally posted by dick_grayson
Was this delayed because of the election? It seems a little strange that it happened so abruptly after the election ended.
Simple answer. Yes

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Old 11-08-04, 11:09 AM
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Originally posted by VinVega
A tight seal on the city will be key. These bastards like to pull back and out of trouble when things heat up. If they get it right, hopefully they won't have to be doing this size operation in Fallujah in the future.
I concur.

Let's hope they do it right this time.
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Old 11-08-04, 11:09 AM
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Originally posted by dick_grayson
Was this delayed because of the election? It seems a little strange that it happened so abruptly after the election ended.
Yes it was. With the democrats running around on a daily basis crowing about the # of dead in Iraq, he didn't want those numbers going up pre-election. However the delay probably helped the terrorists fortify their positions and plant extra bombs, so the bottom line of the delay will probably be more U.S. deaths than would have otherwise happened. And so it goes..
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Old 11-08-04, 11:44 AM
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See the article i posted above. It would have been called "convenient" before the election or "convenient" to delay it. Either way, the Bush Administration was very up front and clear on this (I don't remember much of a negative response from people here), the commanders on the ground were comfortable with it... end of story as far as I'm concerned.
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Old 11-08-04, 02:22 PM
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Go troops!!!!
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Old 11-08-04, 03:15 PM
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why cant we just flatten the whole sunni triangle with bombs? okay, i know...thats a bit unsensitive. this whole area is such a problem area...just wish it could be more simple than sneding in the troops.
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Old 11-08-04, 03:20 PM
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Originally posted by dick_grayson
Was this delayed because of the election? It seems a little strange that it happened so abruptly after the election ended.
I wouldn't be shocked. Most likely Bush told the Iraqi dudes that he would rather wait until after the election, and they probably agreed since if he lost it would have changed things significantly.
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Old 11-08-04, 03:37 PM
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I would venture a guess and say that the action was delayed due to the election. Mind you, it's only a guess.
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Old 11-08-04, 04:21 PM
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cman, you're incorrect. The military action was actually delayed until after the election.
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Old 11-08-04, 04:42 PM
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I don't think anything was delayed. Ignore my article above.
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Old 11-08-04, 04:52 PM
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http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmp...dad_violence_1

Militants Attack Iraq Churches, Hospital

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Militants attacked two churches with car bombs and set off blasts at a hospital, killing at least six people and injuring 52 others, officials said, in explosions that shook the Iraqi capital as U.S. forces launched their offensive on Fallujah.
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Old 11-08-04, 11:14 PM
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Give 'em Hell, Marines.
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Old 11-08-04, 11:26 PM
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Originally posted by Nazgul
Give 'em Hell, Marines.
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Old 11-08-04, 11:32 PM
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Hooray for war!!!
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Old 11-09-04, 12:07 AM
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Hooray for contrarians!
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