[Marxism] US offensive in Iraq pushes toward Syria border

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Wed May 11 01:03:59 MDT 2005

U.S. Forces Push Toward Syrian Border 

Wednesday May 11, 2005 7:01 AM

AP Photo BAG107 


Associated Press Writer 

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Capitalizing on a lull in fighting Tuesday,
hundreds of U.S. Marines pushed through a lawless region on the Syrian
frontier after intense battles along the Euphrates River with well-armed
militants fighting from basements, rooftops and sandbag bunkers. 

At least 54 people were killed in two attacks Wednesday. A car bombing
at a small market in Tikrit killed at least 24, and a suicide bomber in
a line outside a police and army recruitment center in the northern city
of Hawija killed 30, police said. 

Insurgents also kidnapped the provincial governor as a bargaining chip. 

Iraq's foreign minister, meanwhile, told the Associated Press that some
of Iraq's neighbors have become unnerved by the American-backed attempt
to establish a robust democratic government in Baghdad and still are not
doing enough to stop militants from trying to undermine the newly
elected government. 

As many as 100 insurgents were killed in the first 48 hours of Operation
Matador, as American troops cleared villages along the meandering
Euphrates then crossed in rafts and on a pontoon bridge, the U.S.
command said. Many of the dead remained trapped under rubble after
attack planes and helicopter gunships pounded their hideouts. 

At least three Marines were reported killed and 20 wounded during the
first three days of the offensive - the biggest U.S. operation since
Fallujah was taken from extremists six months ago. 

The operation was launched after U.S. intelligence showed followers of
Iraq's most wanted terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, took refuge in the
remote desert region - a haven for smugglers and insurgent suppliers.
The fighters were believed to have fled to Anbar Province after losses
in Iraqi cities. 

After intense fighting with militants entrenched on the south bank of
the Euphrates River early in the operation, Marines saw only light
resistance Tuesday and advanced through sparsely populated settlements
along a 12-mile stretch to the border with Syria, according to a Chicago
Tribune reporter embedded with the assault, James Janega. 

Residents reached by telephone in the area reported some fighting
Tuesday in Obeidi and the two nearby towns of Rommana and Karabilah.
They said frightened residents were taking advantage of the relative
lull to flee the Qaim area. 

Adel Izzedine left on foot with his wife and three children, walking six
miles through farm fields to reach a village where the family caught a
taxi and drove 43 miles to Rawa, east of the fighting. 

``There are gunmen in the city, but there are also a lot of innocent
civilians,'' said Izzedine, who was looking for a mosque or a school in
which to spend the night. ``We are living the same misery that Fallujah
lived some time ago.'' 


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