[Marxism] Rebels return -- or resurface -- in 'cleared' areas of Fallujah

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Fri Dec 3 03:23:22 MST 2004


Scott Peterson | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

In Fallujah, US forces are going through 50,000 houses one by one. But
Iraqi insurgents are coming back. 

FALLUJAH, December 3, 2004 - The embers in the house were still hot from
the fire of battle when Cpl. Joshua Richard went in to view the remains
of the insurgents who killed a fellow US marine. 

At the base of the stairs - the same dark place where Lance Cpl. Blake
Magaoay of Pearl City, Hawaii, had fallen in a burst of rifle fire -
Corporal Richard harangued the burnt Iraqi corpse."You got what you
wanted, didn't you?" he sneered, referring to the Marine casualties. 

The corporal's anger is not unusual among marines who for three weeks
have been taking casulties among comrades, as they continue to face an
up-close battle in Fallujah. The Pentagon now says US forces will see
their tour of duty extended until after the Jan. 30 elections. While
their fight is no longer a front-page story, the physical and mental
toll is growing, as the marines here continue to hunt an enemy that
rarely seeks them out. Instead, pockets of insurgents lie waiting until
teams - like that led by Corporal Magaoay - come crashing through their

Magaoay's death brings the US fatality toll in November to at least 134,
one short of the toll of the most lethal month to date for Americans in
Iraq. Seventy-one US troops died retaking the rebel-held city, according
to Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler, the top Marine commander in Iraq. An
additional 623 American troops were wounded in the most intense urban
conflict for US forces since the Vietnam War. 

Iraqi civilians are not expected to be permitted to begin returning to
the badly damaged city until mid-December, and extensive damage to
virtually every house and building across Fallujah means that detailed
US and Iraqi government plans for rebuilding will take months, at least,
to realize. 

But the original problem persists: US forces sweep through one
neighborhood after another, only to find insurgents popping up in
"cleared" areas. 

The battle Monday killed one marine and wounded three others - a high
cost against three insurgents, who had moved into a house 50 feet across
the street from a newly established marine position at a Fallujah fire
station. That house and several others nearby had been cleared just two
days earlier. 

The ensuing fight revealed an enemy that has hardly given up and is
making US forces learn the lesson of the warning taped up on the inside
gate of the Marine fire station base: "Complacency kills." 

"They are in survival mode, and they're just waiting until someone comes
to them [to fight], rather than going out and initiating attacks," says
Lt. Col. Dan Wilson, the deputy current operations officer for the 1st
Marine Expeditionary Force in charge of western Iraq. 

"We have to go through close to 50,000 structures in the town of
Fallujah," Colonel Wilson says, "to make sure that when someone comes
home [an insurgent] doesn't jump out from a hidden wall or a spider
hole, kills them, and continues to operate from that house." 

Marines are pursuing insurgent cells, and have picked up cell leaders
who are "making mistakes" because they are "on the run," adds Wilson. 

General Sattler says that at least 1,200 insurgents had been killed in
the city. The amount of weaponry found so far in Fallujah confirms to
marines that the city had been the nationwide hub of the Iraq's

Catalogued so far, US intelligence officers say, are more than 4,500
mortar systems, 400 grenades, 800 rocket-propelled grenades, 800 land
mines, and more than 260,000 rifles and small arms. 

"You could issue one [Fallujah] rifle to every man in the United States
Marine Corps, and still have a bunch left over," says Wilson. 

Senior officers say attacks in the Fallujah area have dropped off 44
percent since the invasion of the city began. 

A chemical workshop that appeared designed to boost the explosive power
of roadside bombs has also been found. 

The Fallujah assault "is not good for the families and marines who have
suffered and died, putting their lives on the line for the freedom of
Iraq. But it has been good in terms of dealing a blow to the
insurgency," says Wilson. 

That message hadn't gotten through to the three insurgents who killed
Magaoay. The insurgents, armed with assault rifles and pineapple
grenades, had set up one sleeping area on each floor. Upstairs, they
blocked the window with a bedding material and created a small, dark
cubbyhole. A book lay on one mattress on the floor. 

The marines estimate the insurgents had been in the house less than 12
hours. A bar of soap in the bathroom was still wet with use, immediately
after the firefight. 

One burst from the rebel rifle - and the toss of a hand grenade heralded
the start of battle. Lance Cpl. Chris Anderson, a Marine scout from
Tucson, Ariz., watched the grenade roll before it exploded. Shrapnel
struck his left hand and shoulder. 

"They knew where to place themselves in that house," Lance Corporal
Anderson said later at a combat hospital. Magaoay's fate was not
immediately clear, so marines used nonlethal stun and flash-bang
grenades to fight their way back into the house to find him. Another
team was led, in a split-second decision when others hesitated to enter,
by Lance Cpl. Edward Lonecke, from Manchester, Ga. He was shot in the
thigh, the moment he stormed in from the kitchen door. 

"I knew if we could get Magaoay [out], we could blast the place," Lance
Corporal Lonecke said later, as he waited for an evacuation flight to
Germany. Once the marines pulled out, the house was pummeled with
rockets and 25mm explosive rounds. 

It was after the flames died down, that Corporal Richard, of Lafayette,
La., returned, took snapshots, cursed the dead insurgents, and spat on
their corpses. 

Upstairs, an intelligence officer gingerly picked through the pockets of
the bodies for evidence. His fingers came to rest on a steel pin, and a
familiar shape: a final surprise left for the Americans by the suicidal

"Grenade!" shouted the officer, leaning over the corpse. The marines
dashed for the doorway. 


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