Tue Apr 6, 2004 00:17


A Pentagon source has said up to 130 US troops have been killed in
fierce fighting in Iraq.

The large scale battle, described as "intense", has taken place in
the town of Ar Ramadi, 20 miles west of Fallujah.

Sky News' David Chater said: "None of this is official yet - none of
it is confirmed."

But he added: "It sounds very much like this is being carried out by
men who are militarily trained."

Chater described the attack as "highly sophisticated".

More follows...



U.S. Faces Tough Urban Battle in Fallujah
Tue Apr 6, 6:19 PM ET

By LOURDES NAVARRO and BASSEM MROUE, Associated Press Writers

FALLUJAH, Iraq - In a narrow alley, Marines pinned down by a hail of
guerrilla fire sent up red smoke in a cry for help. Tanks pounded shell
after shell into houses, while troops on the city's edge crawled forward
on their bellies, firing on insurgents.

U.S. forces faced a tough urban battle Tuesday in their drive to pacify
one of Iraq (news - web sites)'s most dangerous cities. Block by block,
they fought their way into Fallujah, where Iraqi guerrillas killed four
American civilians and a mob mutilated their bodies last week.

After nightfall, troops held a swath several blocks deep in one corner
of the city of 200,000, Marine Maj. Briandon McGolwan said.

U.S. forces called out a weapon rarely used against the Iraqi
guerrillas: the AC-130 gunship, a warplane that circles over a target,
laying down a devastating barrage of heavy machine gun fire.

Tuesday evening, U.S. planes firing rockets destroyed four houses in two
neighborhoods, witnesses said. The strike killed 26 Iraqis, including
women and children, and wounded 30 others, said Rafie al-Issawi, a
doctor at Fallujah General Hospital, where the casualties were taken.
The deaths brought the total number of Iraqi dead on Tuesday to 34,
according to the hospital's count.

During the day, U.S. forces made their deepest excursion since the siege
of Fallujah began Monday. Troops in Humvees and on foot pushed into
central neighborhoods, trading fire with gunmen before pulling back from
the furthest points before dark, witnesses said.

Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, entrenched in the
desert just outside Fallujah, battled for hours Tuesday evening with
insurgents firing from houses on the city's northeastern edge.

The battle began when a foot patrol that went a few blocks into the city
came under fire from a house, said Cpl. Christopher Ebert, of Forest
City, N.C., who was on the patrol. He said two Marines were wounded.

Trapped in a narrow alley, unable to see the source of fire, the Marines
put up red smoke to summon help, and a tank and an armored Humvee moved
in. The tank battered the house with a heavy machine gun, and the patrol
was extracted.

But soon afterward, guerrillas opened fire with rocket-propelled
grenades and automatic weapons on the 2nd Battalion Marines just outside
the city, sending the Americans diving into the sand and sparking a
battle that lasted into the night.

Troops crawled belly-down in the sand, firing and advancing across the
swath of desert between them and the first line of buildings. From
behind them, Abrams tanks pounded the neighborhood with shells, setting
at least five houses on fire. Helicopters swirled overhead firing at any
gunmen they saw.

Near the Americans, guerrilla mortars exploded, sending sand flying, and
bullets whizzed over their heads.

"Insurgents usually fire and run. This time they're digging in, which is
the first time we've seen them do that," Ebert said.

Hundreds of Marines moved into the neighborhood, seizing buildings to
use as positions against the insurgents and in some cases climbing to
the rooftops. Some helicopters were hit with small arms, but not shot

The gunmen "use lots of hit-and-run tactics. They ambush a lot and it is
more tough for us to fight that way because we don't want to injure
civilians," Marine Capt. Kyle Staddard said.

McGolwan said U.S. troops have captured 14 insurgents since Monday in
the area.

Fallujah, 30 miles west of Baghdad, has long been a bastion of the Sunni
Muslim guerrillas. Support for the insurgency is strong - and hatred of
the U.S.-led occupation is widespread, as evidenced by the cheering
Iraqis who dragged the four Americans' burned bodies through the streets
a week ago.

On Fallujah's outskirts, one Iraqi farmer just wanted to be able to
reach his gardens, now in an area blocked by U.S. forces.

"The Americans, by coming here, have harmed us," said Ahmad Mashhan. "We
are not armed people and we are not terrorists but we are suffering from
the siege."

Asked how long it would take to seize the whole city, the Marines'
McGolwan replied: "As long as it takes."


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By Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 6, 2004; Page A01

Blackwater Lodge -
Author's Note: This story was written for SOF Magazine (on their nickel). They failed to publish it because of pressure from other facilities of this type.

Main Page -  04/07/04

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