Damien McElroy / The Telegraph (UK) – 2004-07-05 11:34:20
BAGHDAD (June, 27, 2004) — With American fighter jets and helicopters buzzing the skies overhead, an officer in Iraq’s new police force approaches a group of fighters on Fallujah’s front lines with an urgent call to arms.
“I need a man who can use an RPG,” says Omar, who wears the uniform of a first lieutenant. Four hands shoot up and a cry rings out: “We are ready.” He chooses a young man, Bilal, and they drive to an underpass on the outskirts of the city. There, on Highway One, an American Humvee is driving east. Bilal aims and fires his rocket-propelled grenade, turning the vehicle into a smoking, twisted, metal carcass. The fate of its occupants is unknown.
First-Lt Omar is sworn to uphold the law and fight the insurgency that threatens Iraq’s evolution into a free and democratic state. Instead, he is exploiting his knowledge of US tactics to help the rebel cause in Fallujah.”Resistance is stronger when you are working with the occupation forces,” he points out. “That way you can learn their weaknesses and attack at that point.”
Inside the Insurrection — With the Iraqi Police
An Iraqi journalist went into Fallujah on behalf of the Telegraph on Wednesday, a day on which an orchestrated wave of bloody rebel attacks across the country cost more than 100 lives.
Inside the Sunni-dominated town, he met police officers and units of the country’s new army who have formed a united front with Muslim fundamentalists against the Americans, their resistance focused on al-Askeri district on the eastern outskirts of the town.
That morning, US marines had taken up “aggressive defence” positions on one side of Highway One. On the other side, militant fighters were dug in, ready for battle. Their preparations were thorough. Along the length of a suburban street in al-Askeri, they had dug foxholes at the base of every palm tree. Scores of armed men lined the streets. Most had scarves wrapped around their heads but others wore the American-supplied uniform of Unit 505 of the Iraqi army, and carried US-made M-16 rifles. Yet more were dressed in the olive-green uniforms worn by Saddam Hussein’s armed forces.
Since April, when a US offensive failed to crush an uprising by Islamic fighters and Ba’athist loyalists, Fallujah has been effectively a no-go area for American troops. A newly formed, 2,000-strong force known as the Fallujah brigade, led by a Saddam-era general, Mohammed Latif, was supposed to disarm the rebels. Instead, the town remains a hotbed of resistance. Now, once again, US military pressure is being brought to bear….
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