From the press office of the Combined Joint Task Force-7:
I MEF OPERATIONS UNDERWAY IN AL FALLUJAH
CAMP MEK, Iraq — I Marine Expeditionary Force Marines are currently conducting offensive operations in Al Fallujah in order to foster a secure and stable environment for the people of Al Anbar. Those who seek to impede the freedom, prosperity and progress of the Al Anbar residents are being physically challenged. Among those, some have chosen to fight. Having elected their fate, they are being engaged and destroyed.
Since these operations are ongoing, it is not appropriate to comment at this time. Once operations have been completed, and reports have been verified, additional information will be released.
And it sounds like the fighting is fierce.
“At least 12 people, including one American marine, were killed in a series of gunbattles today, as guerrilla violence swept the Sunni-dominated area north and west of the Iraqi capital,” the New York Times reported. One of the Iraqis killed was an ABC cameraman who walked into the middle of a firefight.
The combat today was the most dramatic measure of the violence that has continued unabated throughout the Sunni heartland in recent months. In both the level of sophistication and ease of maneuver displayed by the insurgents, the fighting has appeared to raise new doubts about the claims of American military officers that that they were close to defeating the insurgency led by members of Saddam Hussein’s fallen regime and were dealing with a smaller number of foreign-led Islamic terrorists.
The fierce street fighting in Fallujah demonstrated anew that this city, 35 miles west of Baghdad and in the heart of the so-called Sunni Triangle, the epicenter of anti-American resistance, was far from pacified and that there were large areas of the city where the Americans could enter only at their peril.
It’s so bad in Fallujah that the Times‘ Dexter Filkins said he was waved away from a hospital by its administrators who warned him there was a very good chance he would be “shot and killed” if he went inside.
The fighting comes a day after the 1st MEF took over responsibility for Al Anbar province from the 82nd Airborne Division.