A Soldiers Blog

Search Site search web

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Falluja's fighters dig in for the final onslaught

Falluja's fighters dig in for the final onslaught
By Peter Beaumont
Oct 24, 2004, 11:05

Email this article
Printer friendly page

The last streets of flat-roofed houses of the al-Shuhada district of Falluja peter out into unpaved roads that make their way between the fields to the villages populated by the Zawbi tribe.

Under cover of darkness, the fighters of Falluja's resistance creep across this landscape, moving men and weapons from safe houses in the villages towards Shuhada, towards the battle for Falluja.

Early yesterday it was US Marine vehicles that were heading into Shuhada, turning out of their forward operating base - a walled former resort of low bungalows round a lake known to Iraqis as 'Dreamland' - for a house raid that US military sources say netted a 'senior leader' in the network run by Jordanian terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, along with five others. He was named as Abdel-Hamid Fiyadh, 50, who was arrested along with his two sons, Walid, 18, and Majid, 25, and three relatives.

For a year and more, this is how the war in Falluja has been conducted: at night, raids by American troops seen largely through the green shimmer of their night-vision goggles; by day, block searches and vehicle checkpoints.

On the insurgents' side, it has been prosecuted with an equal, if covert, vigour among the back lanes and along the quiet lanes to the south that act as supply routes between other centres for the rebellion.

But it is the city itself and districts such as Shuhada that are the centre of gravity of the insurgency, along with the densely concentrated al-Askari neighbourhood on the Euphrates to the city's east, and the district of Johan in the city's north-west.

After a year and a half of gun battles, artillery and tank fire and bombing raids, many of the houses of Shuhada are scarred. But Shuhada is on the brink of even greater violence as US and Iraqi forces mass for what they hope will be the definitive battle of the Sunni Triangle.

How that battle unfolds will not only hold the key to Iraq's elections in January, and to a joint US-British military strategy, but to the life of Margaret Hassan and perhaps to how history will judge the actions of both George Bush and Tony Blair.

It is a battle that will be fought among the metal shops off Highway 10, where it carves into the city of 300,000. It will be fought along the highway itself that neatly bisects Falluja and, eventually, it will be fought in the warren of narrow, filthy lanes of the slums that sit by the Euphrates, where fighters, at first largely from the al-Buesa tribe, first began their rebellion.

Even when journalists could still visit the fighters in Falluja, this was a threatening place, where lookouts would stand on the street corners to warn of American troops and other 'spies'.

AxisofLogic/ World

Prev | List | Random | Next
Powered by RingSurf!