Far from mission accomplished, the Fallujah urban battle is getting a new dimension : stealthy resistance fighters are challenging US-controlled
areas, according to US military sources. The US Marines are changing their strategy of direct confrontation to cleansing Fallujah house by house.
US army fears more violence as rebels sneak back into Fallujah with returnees.
By Seth Meixner - FALLUJAH, Iraq
US Marines keeping a tenuous peace in the battered Iraqi city of Fallujah say they expect an explosion of violence as rebels hiding among returning
refugees renew their deadly campaign of bombings and ambushes.
They also fear the insurgency will find increasing support from Fallujah residents who return to find their homes and businesses devastated by last
month's massive US-led assault on the Sunni Muslim enclave.
"Our assessment is the die-hard guys have gone to ground and are just waiting for the refugees to return so that they can blend in, come back and
start their IED (improvised explosive device) campaign," said Captain Tom Tennant of the 1st Batallion, 3rd Marines, who have dug into northeast
Heavy fighting has devastated much of the city, leaving block after block of torched shopfronts and bullet-scarred homes that continue to come under
heavy fire from US marines searching for lingering rebels.
Most of Fallujah's 300,000 residents fled the city in the weeks before the assault, and though the military has said no date has been set for their
return, marines are already braced for the flood of people.
"Right now it's hard enough, but when you inject a bunch of civilians into this city it's going to be that much harder," Tennant said, warning of
a campaign of daily bombings.
"These guys are just going to filter back in.
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Given that many iraqi civilians have arms at home, i wonder how the US Marines will be making a difference between a 'diehard resistance fighter'
waiting for the right time and one of the 50.000 innocent civilians left inside the city casually having a gun at home.
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[edit on 3-12-2004 by Mokuhadzushi]
[edit on 12-3-2004 by Zion Mainframe]