fallujah * "fight for democracy"

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    "Troops warned of suicide bombers in Fallujah

    US troops are priming themselves for a possible full-scale assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah, as their commanders warn them they are likely to face suicide bombers if the assault goes ahead.

    About 20,000 US and Iraqi soldiers and marines are camped around the rebel hub, waiting for Prime Minister Iyad Allawi to give the nod for action or ask them to stand down.

    On the ground, a marine commander told his young crew they were headed for victory if they entered the Sunni Muslim bastion, west of Baghdad.

    "You will be making history," Major General Richard Natonski said.

    "Forty years from now, 100 years from now, they will be talking about the battle of Fallujah."

    Another commander was more wary, ordering his men to be on constant alert.

    "If someone raises their hands in surrender and starts charging you, what are you going to do? Shoot him," Colonel Michael Shupp said.

    "Why? Because of the threat of suicide bombers."

    Soldiers and marines are psyched and ready for action after the rallying words from their commanders.

    "It will not get better in this country before we have eliminated the problem here," said Colonel Michael Formica, who commands the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Cavalry Division.

    "It is a fight for democracy," he told hundreds of soldiers as they closed off small roads around Fallujah with barbed wire."

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