if you have a god...pray...if not

  1. 1,481 Posts.
    .....spare a thought for the Coalition troops today as it looks as the push into Falluja is imminent

    And I do hope no last minutre deals are struck to allow the nest of lunatics out or safe passage - only to regroup and resurface somewhere else.

    This fight has to be fought and fought now and fought to a crushing decisive finale.

    Do well boys

    Marines braced for bloodshed
    From correspondents in Hala Jaber, Fallujah
    November 8, 2004

    AS at least 12,000 coalition and Iraqi forces massed in preparation for an all-out assault on Fallujah last night, insurgent commanders inside the rebel stronghold warned that hundreds of suicide bombers had been primed as part of planning for a ferocious counter-attack.

    US Army commanders said this morning their troops captured some rebel territory outside the flashpoint town, where up to 300 suicide bombers are believed to be waiting, ready for the coalition assault.

    Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, after declaring a state of emergency across much of the violence-wracked country overnight, said the standoff at Fallujah had to end soon.

    With all eyes on Fallujah, west of Baghdad, insurgents struck a devastating blow in nearby Ramadi, rounding up 21 officers at two police stations and shooting them dead execution style.

    "A large number of attackers, estimated at about 200, ambushed the main police station in Haditha and another smaller one in Haqlaniya," said a police officer from Haditha who was not on duty during the attack. "The attackers disarmed the police, gathered them together and then shot them dead."

    Policemen found their massacred colleagues, with their hands tied behind their backs, while the gang made off with weapons and vehicles.

    The executions came hours after a series of car bombings and attacks on police facilities and government offices in Samarra left 33 Iraqis dead.

    As US troops gathered to pray outside Fallujah, rebel leaders said more than 100 cars laden with explosives had been distributed throughout the rebel Sunni stronghold to be detonated when US marines mount a long-awaited ground offensive.

    One commander said 300 foreign fighters had volunteered for suicide bombings as US forces laid siege to the stronghold of Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the most wanted man in Iraq.

    Some of the foreign fighters would be used in 118 vehicles already rigged with explosives, he said; others would be waiting in booby-trapped homes for US and Iraqi soldiers hunting from house to house for Zarqawi's fighters.

    One commander pointed out bridges, a railway track and several networks of narrow alleys in three districts of the city, explaining they had been mined. Snipers had been recruited from other cities by Fallujah's commanders and were already in position at the weekend.

    The insurgents said they had surface-to-air missiles with which to counter attacks by helicopter gunships. They also claimed that a number of missiles had been tipped with deadly chemicals, including cyanide. One said these would be fired at US forces from their rear.

    The looming battle for Fallujah is regarded as a decisive test of the ability of US and Iraqi forces to quell the insurgents of the "Sunni triangle" to the north and west of Baghdad in time for elections in January.

    US fighter jets continued a pre-ground war bombardment yesterday. But with up to 5000 rebel fighters awaiting the coalition forces, US officials acknowledged last week that the casualty toll was expected to reach levels not seen since the Vietnam War.

    The main road through the city was strewn last week with the charred remains of US tanks and other vehicles burnt long ago and never cleared away. Long convoys of tanks and troops were moving rapidly towards the city.

    The districts comprising Fallujah's perimeter - where most of the insurgents are concentrated - were already largely in ruins.

    The crumbling remains of houses and shell-pocked walls were reminiscent of Beirut in the 1980s at the height of Lebanon's civil war.

    Both the US-led coalition and Iraq's interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, regard control of the city as critical to the restoration of security.

    The sheikhs of Fallujah blame Mr Allawi for failed negotiations to avert an attack. They claim he initially agreed to let them drive out the foreign fighters but later insisted that US troops should be sent in to help Iraqi national guards search for them from house to house.

    "The drums of war have now sounded and not even Allawi has the power to stop it from happening," said a source close to the talks.

    A military committee of former Iraqi army officers has been liaising with various groups of insurgents to plan the defence of the city. Morale was high among those waiting to fight and they spoke of having Allah on their side in the battle ahead.

    As the tension among ordinary civilians increased, US forces used loudspeakers and leaflets to warn that women and children should go, but that any man under 45 trying to enter or leave the city would be detained. The forces also asked for help in capturing terrorists.

    Nobody doubted that much blood would be spilt. Trenches have been dug in Fallujah's cemeteries in preparation for hurried burials of "martyrs" in white shrouds. Hospitals and makeshift clinics were on high alert at the weekend but doctors were already complaining they were short of medicines.

    During a night spent under US bombardment, rebels sat around the computer watching videos of "resistance actions". One piece of footage repeated over and over again was of a young fighter from the Mahdi army of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr being shot dead as he tried to launch a rocket-propelled grenade against a US position.

    The men watching this film, although not fighters themselves, analysed the scene much as a group of youths might replay a controversial moment in a football match. They concluded that the Shiite was an amateur compared with the Sunni insurgents who would soon be squaring up to the marines in Fallujah.

    "The Shiites are not as well trained as our fighters here in Fallujah," said Muhanad, a car mechanic. "Ours are professionals and the Americans will soon learn their lesson."

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