fighting for their souls at the gates of hell

  1. 228 Posts.

    US meets fierce resistance in Fallujah

    US tanks pushing into central Fallujah have met fierce resistance from well-organised insurgents who show no signs of giving up, US Marines said today.

    Meanwhile three members of Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's family have been kidnapped by gunmen, a spokesman for the Iraqi interim government said on Wednesday.

    Insurgents in Fallujah have faced air strikes, artillery barrages, mortars and heavy machinegun fire since the US launched an offensive on Monday to crush Islamic militants and guerrillas who had controlled Iraq's most rebellious city.

    US infantry and tanks have punched deep into the city, and their Iraqi allies have made gains, but there are no signs Fallujah will come under their full control soon.

    After a relative overnight lull, fierce fighting erupted again today.

    A tank platoon that moved along Fallujah's main street saw fighters who had just come under mortar fire climb onto rooftops and fire rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and machineguns.

    "There are lots of them. We took heavy fire," Gunnery Sergeant Ishmail Castillo told Reuters.

    "They opened up on my tank. They don't look like they are going to cave in."

    Sergeant Castillo said his tank had killed six guerrillas and two Marines were wounded in fighting.

    "One of the Marines was hit in the head by RPG shrapnel," he said.

    Artillery barrages and machinegun fire echoed across the city as plumes of black smoke rose.

    Tank platoon commander Lieutenant Joe Cash said the guerrillas were unleashing coordinated attacks.

    "They hit us from one area and then another right afterwards. There is in-depth organisation. There were small-arms attacks all night," he said.

    Running along Fallujah's streets in groups of four or five, the guerrillas appeared in black clothes and headscarves or dressed in uniforms worn by Iraqi government forces, said Lieutenant Cash.

    "Some take off their fighting clothes, walk to a weapons cache and next thing you know they are shooting at you," he said.

    "You see a guy walking in the street with normal clothes and he gives you a hard look and you just know he is one of them."

    Lieutenant Cash said Marines found many weapons caches around Fallujah, including in mosques.

    Guerrillas have often accused US forces of firing at mosques.

    The US military says mosques lose their normal protected status if insurgents use them militarily.

    US Marines have pushed through a key rebel area but are still facing some insurgent resistance, a Marine officer said on Wednesday.

    "We've reached the heart of Jolan," Major Clark Watson said of a northwestern district of the Iraqi city where insurgents have long had a strong presence.

    "We have pushed through four square kilometres, but it's too early to say we are controlling it," he told Reuters.

    "That will take time because there will always be pockets of resistance."

    Maj Watson, of the 1st Battalion of Marine infantry, said guerrillas were fighting back, but not as hard as expected.

    "It wasn't as much as we thought it would be, but they have put up resistance," he said.

    The Pentagon said at least 10 US and two Iraqi soldiers had died in the offensive that began Monday night when some 10,000 US soldiers and Marines and 2,000 Iraqi troops stormed the Sunni Muslim city to regain control from insurgents.

    Due to security issues, there were often delays in the reporting of casualties, the US military said.

    Allawi kidnapping

    Three relatives of the Iraqi interim leader Iyad Allawi have been kidnapped in Baghdad.

    They are a cousin, the cousin's wife and another relative.

    Spokesman for Iyad Allawi, George Sada, said the three relatives were abducted from their home in Baghdad.

    He gave no further details on the circumstances of their abduction, but a police source said there had been a short gun battle at the home in a southwestern district of the capital before the people were seized.

    They were leaving the house and getting into a car when six or eight armed men abducted them.

    Mr Sada said no demands had so far been made by the kidnappers.

    Mr Allawi has a lot of protection and security detail around him.

    His office says he often receives death threats and has survived assassination attempts.

    Hundreds of Iraqis have been kidnapped by criminal gangs in a wave of abductions in recent months, with more wealthy individuals such as doctors and businessmen most regularly targeted. Most are released after the payment of ransom.

arrow-down-2 Created with Sketch. arrow-down-2 Created with Sketch.