U.S. pins down thousands of insurgents in Fallujah

Thursday, November 11, 2004

BAGHDAD The U.S. military claims coalition forces have trapped thousands of Sunni insurgents in Fallujah.

Officials said the insurgency command structure in Fallujah has been shattered and small bands of enemy combatants were fighting without communications or logistical support. They said insurgents have been unable to flee the city.

"They are now in small pockets, blind, moving about the city," Lt. Gen. John Sattler, commander of the Marine Corps force in Iraq, said. "They do not know where we are. They do not know where we are coming from now or where we will be within the next hour."

Officials said the U.S. military has captured more than 75 percent of Fallujah and expects to control the entire city by Nov. 12, Middle East Newsline reported. But they acknowledged that significant resistance was likely to continue for at least another week.

Sattler told a briefing at a military camp outside Fallujah on Wednesday that the estimated 15,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops were following their battle plan and routing an estimated 3,000 insurgents. The general said the insurgents were isolated and denied their freedom of movement.

"We are comfortable that they are not able to communicate, to work out any coordination," Sattler said. "When they attempted to flee from one zone to another they were killed. We feel very comfortable that none of them moved back toward the north or escaped on the flanks."

Sattler, commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, said Iraqi and U.S. forces have been steadily eliminating pockets of resistance in Fallujah. But he would not say whether the resistance has been broken.

The Iraqi commander of the 2,000 Iraqi troops in Fallujah agreed. Maj. Gen. Abdul Qader Mohan said the insurgents have lost their combat effectiveness and instead were killing civilian hostages.

"They fight," Mohan said. "But their resistance is limited because of the immense pressure we are putting on them."

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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