Nov. 8, 2004 -- Iraqi and U.S. forces began their long-awaited
assault today against insurgents in Fallujah, Iraq,
in an operation dubbed "Al Fajr," the Iraqi word for
According to various news reports, thousands of
soldiers and Marines have moved into Fallujah neighborhoods believed
to be harboring
the most insurgents. Earlier, Iraqi troops took two bridges and
a hospital in northern Fallujah, Multinational Force Iraq officials
said today. Officials described the situation around the insurgent
stronghold as "fluid."
Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi gave the go-ahead for
Iraqi and U.S. forces to rid the city of insurgents and foreign
terrorists. In a news conference today in Baghdad, Allawi said
his government is determined to drive the terrorists out of Fallujah.
He said he makes this move after all peaceful means to solve the
problem have not worked out.
"I have given my authority to the Iraqi forces to spearhead
the attacks," Allawi said.
On Nov. 7, the prime minister declared a state of emergency in
all of Iraq except for the Kurdish-controlled area in the north.
The Iraqi 36th Commando Battalion took the bridges and hospital
today and detained 38 men.
Marine artillery and U.S. aircraft have hit terrorist hideouts
in the city. Pentagon officials said Marines and soldiers in the
area have observed secondary explosions after the strikes. This
often signifies that ammunition or explosives were at the site
that was struck, officials explained.
Coalition forces are hitting anti-Iraqi forces where they show
themselves. News reports indicate U.S. Marines and soldiers are
firing mortars and artillery at concentrations of insurgents and
The offensive in Fallujah is one of the most telegraphed military
operations in history. That is by design, said Pentagon officials.
The city normally has a population of about 300,000. With all the
warnings, officials estimate that between 50,000 and 60,000 people
are left in the city. Even so, Multinational Force Iraq officials
report terrorists in the city are preventing families from leaving
Fallujah. According to residents, terrorist plan to use citizens
as human shields, then claim they were attacked by friendly forces.
News accounts said that officials estimate between 5,000 and 6,000
insurgents and foreign terrorists are in the city.
Multinational Force Iraq officials have received reports that
terrorists in Fallujah are building a system of tunnels joining
mosques and schools within the city. The tunnels reportedly would
be used to transport weapons and ammunition throughout protected
sites in the face of the Multinational Force assault.
Under international law, mosques are granted protected status
because of their religious and cultural significance. However,
such sites lose their protected status when insurgents use them
for military purposes.