Editors / Electronic Iraq – 2006-06-13 23:21:05
(12 June 2006) — The Los Angeles Times is reporting indicators of an imminent US-led attack on Ramadi, a city in the Anbar province where insurgents, including those loyal to assassinated Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab Zarqawi, operate openly.
Occupation forces have sturggled to control Ramadi since the 2003 invasion. Residents of the river city have are not strangers to the political maneuverings and attacks of the US military and the insurgents alike. Now that long struggle appears to be coming to a climax.
“The image pieced together from interviews with tribal leaders and fleeing families in recent weeks,” writes Times correspondents Megan K. Stack and Louise Roug, “is one of a desperate population of 400,000 people trapped in the crossfire between insurgents and US forces. Food and medical supplies are running low, prices for gas have soared because of shortages and municipal services have ground to a stop.”
The report continues:
US and Iraqi forces had cordoned off the city by Saturday, residents and Iraqi officials said. Airstrikes on several residential areas picked up, and troops took to the streets with loudspeakers to warn civilians of a fierce impending attack, Ramadi police Capt. Tahseen Dulaimi said.
US military officials refused to confirm or deny reports that a Ramadi offensive was underway.
Thousands of families remain trapped in the city, those who have fled say. Many can’t afford to leave or lack transportation, whereas other families have decided to wait for their children to finish final examinations at school before escaping.
“The situation is catastrophic. No services, no electricity, no water,” said Sheik Fassal Gaood, the former governor of Al Anbar province, whose capital is Ramadi.
“People in Ramadi are caught between two plagues: the vicious, armed insurgents and the American and Iraqi troops.”
Residents have been particularly unnerved by the recent arrival of 1,500 US troops sent to reinforce the forces already stationed at the city. Street battles between troops and insurgents have been raging for months, but the troops’ deployment left residents bracing for a mass offensive to take the town back from insurgents.
“It is becoming hell up there,” said Mohammed Fahdawi, a 42-year-old contractor who packed up his four children and fled to Baghdad two weeks ago. “It is unbelievable: The Americans seem to have brought all of their troops to Ramadi.”
Though military leaders have denied it, there is much to suggest a massive assault similar to the November 2004 US-led attack on nearby Fallujah. In that attack, the Washington Post reported last year, “More than half of Fallujah’s 39,000 homes were damaged, and about 10,000 of those were destroyed or left structurally unsound to live in, US officials say.”
That city has still not recovered from the devastating attack, in which occupation forces raided hospitals, blocked passage of critical medical and food aid, killed countless innocents, and showered parts of the city with white phosphorous, an indiscriminate incendiary weapon that effectively burns its victims alive.
Ramadi, like Fallujah before it, has found itself a sort of headquarters for elements of Iraq’s insurgency — elements that the US troops have been battling sporadically in the streets of Ramadi for months. Insurgents in Ramadi have killed police recruits (70 in January) and assassinated tribal leaders.
• Electronic Iraq will be following developments in Ramadi here.
Check http://electronicIraq.net daily.
RAMADI IN THE NEWS:
(updated 13 June 2006)
• Ramadi: Fallujah Redux, Dahr Jamail (12 June 2006)
• Fear of Big Battle Panics Iraqi City, Los Angeles Times (11 June 2006)
• Heavy Street Fighting in Ramadi, Informed Comment (10 June 2006)
• Wikipedia on Ramadi
• US Will Reinforce Troops in West Iraq, Washington Post (30 May 2006)
• Insurgents Hamper US, Iraqi forces in Ramadi, AP (22 May 2006)
• Marines From Iraq Sound Off About Want of Armor and Men, New York Times (25 April 2005)
• US General Gets Earful From Men in Sunni City Who May Forgo Polls, Los Angeles Times (30 January 2005)
• More Blood, More Chaos, Dahr Jamail’s Iraq Dispatches (21 November 2004)
• Young Marines Frustrated by Lack of Progress, Boston Globe (12 August 2004)
• Among Troops, Growing Doubts About Mission, Leaders Who Sent Them, Knight-Ridder (21 July 2004)
• ‘US Soldiers Started to Shoot Us, One by One’ , The Guardian (21 May 2004)
• US-Led Forces Risk Being Sucked Into Guerrilla War, Reuters (8 April 2004)
• Revolutionary Violence Engulfs Iraq, AP (7 April 2004)
• Anger and Faith Fuel Iraqi Resistance, Boston Globe (9 October 2003)
• Iraq Town Blames US Troops for Fatal Explosion at Cadet Graduation, Knight-Ridder (7 July 2003)