here come the 'friendly fire' casualties

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    10,000 GIs Ring Fallujah in Preparation for Massive Battle
    By Jim Krane
    The Associated Press

    Friday 05 November 2004

    Americans step up attacks against Fallujah, close roads as showdown with insurgents looms.
    Near Fallujah - U.S. warplanes pounded Fallujah late Friday in what residents called the strongest attacks in weeks as more than 10,000 American soldiers and Marines massed for an expected assault. Iraq's prime minister warned the "window is closing" to avert an offensive.

    Residents reached by telephone said the aircraft were striking targets in the central city market that had not been hit since April. There was no confirmation from U.S. officials.

    Earlier Friday, U.S. planes dropped leaflets urging women and children to leave the city, residents said.

    As pressure mounted on the guerrilla stronghold, the insurgents struck back, killing one U.S. soldier and wounding five in a rocket attack. Clashes were reported at other checkpoints around the city and in the east and north of Fallujah late in the day.

    For the past three nights, long convoys of American soldiers from Baghdad and Baqouba have rolled onto a dust-blown base on the outskirts of Fallujah, a city that has become the symbol of Iraqi resistance. U.S. commanders here have been coordinating plans either to fight their way into the city or isolate it from the rest of Iraq's Sunni Muslim heartland.

    If they fight, American troops will face an estimated 3,000 insurgents dug in behind defenses and booby traps. Military planners believe there are about 1,200 hardcore insurgents in Fallujah at least half of them Iraqis. They are bolstered by insurgent cells with up to 2,000 fighters in the surrounding towns and countryside.

 
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