Friday, November 19, 2004

NYTimes > MidEast Insurgents: House in Falluja Base for Jordanian Terrorist

The New York Times > International > Middle East > Insurgents: House in Falluja Seems to Have Been Base for Jordanian Terrorist:
"Falluja is known as the City of Mosques, but the landscape is now dotted by broken minarets, many destroyed by airstrikes.

The interior minister, Falah al-Naqib, said at a news conference in Baghdad that families who fled would receive 150,000 dinars, or about $110, with their next monthly food ration. Engineers are evaluating how to restore power, water and sewage systems to the city, where hazards like downed power lines continue to pose a danger. ."

Almost all of the city has been heavily damaged, and the biggest question is how residents will react to seeing the vast swaths of destruction. Even before the devastation, residents were opposed to any American presence. American commanders say rebuilding efforts will win over the Fallujans, but attempts at reconstruction in other urban battle zones have stumbled badly.

An American commander also said the weeklong offensive to take the city had "broken the back of the insurgency."

Despite that assessment, gun battles and mortar fire continued to shake the city, and the commander, Lt. Gen. John Sattler of the First Marine Expeditionary Force, said it would be "some time" before it was safe enough to allow many of Falluja's 300,000 residents to return. A wave of assaults continued across areas of central and northern Iraq dominated by Sunni Arabs, who controlled the country under Saddam Hussein.

Marines continued to engage in firefights on Thursday with pockets of insurgents in southern Falluja. A marine and an Iraqi soldier were killed at sunset when they came under fire as they were trying to clear a building.

So far, at least 51 American servicemen have been killed and 425 wounded in the city since the began on Nov. 8, General Sattler said at a news conference at the Marine headquarters. Eight Iraqi soldiers have been killed and 43 wounded. About 1,200 insurgents appear to have been killed, he said.

The offensive had crippled the insurgents and "disrupted them around the country," he said.

But violence continued across central and northern Iraq. Bombings in Baghdad and two northern cities killed at least eight Iraqis. In Mosul, pushed to the brink of chaos by a revolt last week, rebels attacked a police station and lobbed 10 mortar shells at the provincial government center, wounding at least four of the governor's bodyguards. The Iraqi government was investigating reports that 63 freshly trained police had been abducted at gunpoint as they were driving in from Jordan.

In Basra, in the south, about 300 Shiite Arabs have banded together into a group called the Anger Brigades to battle extremist Sunni Arabs, Ali al-Mahdi, a spokesman for the group, said in an interview. The founding of the group raised the specter of new sectarian conflict in this deeply divided society.

General Sattler's assertions about routing the insurgency appeared optimistic, given the fact that Abdullah Janabi, the leader of Falluja's mujahedeen council, was still operating in the city. A recent Marine intelligence report also warned of the resurrection of the insurgency in the Falluja area should the American military reduce troop levels there, as has been planned.

Continuing skirmishes will slow the return of Falluja's civilians, many of whom fled before the fighting began. The decision to move people back is to be made by Prime Minister Ayad Allawi after recommendations by American commanders.
con·cept: NYTimes > MidEast Insurgents: House in Falluja Base for Jordanian Terrorist