News and Information
Falluja troops under heavy fire
|November 11, 2004
| US marines in Falluja have come under sustained attack from several different directions in the headquarters they have set up in the Iraqi city.
The BBC's Paul Wood, who is at the scene, said there was sniper fire from four or five points on the horizon.
The insurgents may have regrouped, he says, after US-led troops took over large parts of the city.
Other reports speak of heavy aerial bombardment, and a fresh attack on rebel-held areas in the south.
We are human beings, this is an Iraqi city - why should we have to go through all this?
Hamid Flewa, Falluja resident
Voices from Falluja
First Marine Division commander Maj Gen Richard Natonski told AP news agency the operation was "ahead of schedule".
Eighteen US and five Iraqi troops had been killed so far, and another 69 Americans and 34 fighters were wounded, he added.
US military officials say around 600 insurgents have died.
Residents trapped in the battered city said they could smell the stench of decomposing bodies.
In other developments in Iraq:
* US-led troops find three Iraqi contractors and an Iraqi taxi-driver in Falluja believed to be held as hostages
At least 17 people are killed in a car bomb in a busy Baghdad shopping area
Masked insurgents in northern Mosul attack several police stations and loot weapons and ammunition, before setting at least two of them on fire. The attacks prompt US strikes against suspected rebel targets
* Kirkuk Governor Abdulrahman Mustafa escapes an assassination attempt in the northern city, but several people are injured in the bomb attack on his convoy.
US-led troops are trying to push the rebels into a corner, by pinning them back against the natural barrier of the Euphrates river.
Click here for a satellite map of the city showing troop movements and key sites
But another BBC correspondent, Quil Lawrence, says troops have pulled back from the city hospital, captured on Sunday night.
Meanwhile, two US Cobra helicopters were hit by small-arms and rocket fire in separate incidents and forced to land.
The crews of both aircraft were rescued unhurt, the US military said, but some reports suggest one of the pilots was hit with small-arms fire.
Our correspondent says the US marines had to call in four air strikes as they came under heavy fire in central Falluja.
Techniques, tactics and the history of fighting in cities
Q&A: Falluja tactics
Insurgents appeared to have reached the perimeter of the headquarters, he says.
At the same time, a rifle company of marines has been pushing out into the city, going literally house to house to try to clear out the insurgents.
Troops have been trying to stay inside buildings to avoid exposure to sniper fire.
US-led forces said earlier on Thursday they had rid more than 70% of the city of insurgents in the battle.
FALLUJA ASSAULT FACTS
Up to 15,000 US and Iraqi troops involved
Estimated 3,000 Iraqi insurgent and foreign fighters in city
Estimated 50,000 civilians remain out of usual population of some 300,000
In pictures: Falluja offensive
The rebels are said to be disorganised and leaderless, but still dangerous.
Villages to the west of the city, thought by the US to be clear of insurgents, are also reporting sniper, mortar and rocket-propelled grenade fire.
Concerns are growing about the humanitarian situation in and around Falluja.
Red Crescent spokeswoman Firdoos al-Ubadi said Falluja was a "disaster", with doctors unable to reach most Iraqi casualties and medical equipment virtually non-existent
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