FALLUJAH IN THE CROSSHAIRS
Multinational forces are now executing the initial maneuvers of Operation PHANTOM FURY. American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines are engaged with Iraqi National Guard soldiers and commandos in pacifying the terrorist-dominated city of Fallujah. Multinational forces from both U.S. Armed Forces and the Iraqi National Guard total approximately 15,000. Enemy opposition is estimated to be between 3,000 and 4,000 terrorist insurgents.
A military spokesman estimated that 42 insurgents were killed across Fallujah in the opening round of attacks.
Western districts of Fallujah were penetrated by Iraqi National Guard forces late last night, successfully seizing two strategic bridges and the city hospital. This followed weeks of aerial bombardment by U.S. aircraft.
Separately, militants attacked a Catholic church in southern Baghdad, setting it ablaze, according to police and eyewitnesses.
The assault on the city is an attempt to regain control of the city from insurgents in preparation for national elections scheduled for January 2005. Nearly two-thirds of the city's population was estimated to have fled leaving about 100,000 civilians.
Prior to the commencement of the operation, Prime Minister Ayad Allawi declared a state of emergency across Iraq, except for the Kurdish area, as violence flared in anticipation of the assault on Fallujah. The city itself had already been encircled with checkpoints at areas to leave the city. Attempts had been made by the Interim Iraqi Government to negotiate with representatives from Fallujah to eject foreign fighters suspected to be in the city. These, however, proved unfruitful and led Allawi to authorize the military operation.
Glad this is finally happening--it's been a long time coming. God bless the troops; they'll finish the job.