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Posted: 10/15/2004 5:11:56 AM EST

Updated: 10:04 AM EDT
U.S. Launches Air, Ground Assault on Fallujah
By TINI TRAN, AP

BAGHDAD, Iraq (Oct. 15) -- U.S. warplanes pounded the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah on Friday, a day after the city's leaders suspended peace talks and rejected the Iraqi government's demands to turn over terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.



AP
An injured man is pulled from a destroyed house in Fallujah.


U.S. troops detained Fallujah's top negotiator in the peace talks, witnesses said. Khaled al-Jumeili, an Islamic cleric, was arrested he left a mosque after Friday prayers in a village about 10 miles south of Fallujah, they said. There was no immediate U.S. comment.

Fallujah clerics insisted al-Zarqawi was not in the city and called for civil disobedience across Iraq if the Americans try to overrun the insurgent bastion.


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If civil disobedience won't stop the attack, clerics said they would proclaim a jihad, or holy war, against multinational forces ''as well as those collaborating with them.''

Al-Zarqawi's Tawhid and Jihad group has claimed responsibility for Thursday's twin bombings inside Baghdad's heavily guarded Green Zone - home to U.S. officials and the Iraqi leadership - which killed six people, including three American civilians. A fourth American was missing and presumed dead.

Two Iraqis were killed, at least one of them a suicide bomber. The identity of the other wasn't known. The group's claim, which could not be verified, was posted on a Web site known for its Islamic contents.

A car bomb exploded Friday near a police station in southwest Baghdad, killing one person and injuring at least 11 others, according to the Interior Ministry and hospital officials.

Elsewhere, several mortar rounds believed fired from Syria exploded Friday near the border town of Husaybah, said Marine Lt. Col. Chris Woodbridge. There were no casualties. Marines say mortar attacks from Syrian territory have increased in recent weeks but it's unclear who is launching them.


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Thursday's bold, unprecedented attack on the Green Zone, which witnesses and a senior Iraqi official said was carried out by suicide bombers, dramatized the militants' ability to penetrate the heart of the U.S.-Iraqi leadership even as authorities step up military operations to suppress Sunni Muslim insurgents in other parts of the country.

Fallujah, west of Baghdad, is considered the toughest stronghold of insurgents, who have controlled the city since the end of a bloody, three-week Marine siege in April.

Jets and artillery hammered Fallujah through the night and early Friday in an apparent effort to quash terrorists suspected of planning attacks timed with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began Friday.

Three people were killed and seven others injured during the night, according to Dr. Rafia Hiyad of Fallujah General Hospital. On Thursday, the hospital said at least five people were killed and 16 wounded.

U.S. officials, however, indicated the bombing was not a prelude to a major offensive into Fallujah that officials have said they might launch sometime this fall. In Washington, a senior military official, speaking about operational matters only on the condition of anonymity, said the strikes were against specific targets, similar to airstrikes that have gone on for months against suspected militant hideouts.

The Iraqi government has been in negotiations with city leaders over a deal to restore government control to Fallujah.

Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi warned Wednesday that Fallujah must surrender al-Zarqawi and other foreign fighters or face military action. Talks broke down Thursday when city representatives rejected the ''impossible condition'' since even the Americans were unable to catch al-Zarqawi, said Abu Asaad, spokesman for the mujahedeen council of Fallujah.

The U.S. believes al-Zarqawi and his group are headquartered in Fallujah.

During Friday sermons in Sunni mosques in Baghdad and elsewhere, preachers read a statement from Fallujah clerics declaring that al-Zarqawi's presence ''is a lie just like the weapons of mass destruction lie.''

''Al-Zarqawi has become the pretext for flattening civilian houses and killing innocent civilians,'' the statement said.

The clerics said that in the event of an all-out attack, they would call on all Muslims to launch a civil disobedience campaign against the Americans and their Iraqi allies.

''In case the interim government and occupation troops make no response following the civil disobedience campaign, Muslim scholars and representatives of all Islamic and national groups will declare jihad all over Iraq and declare a mobilization against the occupation troops as well as those collaborating with them,'' the statement said.

In Friday's operations at Fallujah, two Marine battalions were trying to ''disrupt the capabilities of the anti-Iraqi forces,'' said Maj. Francis Piccoli, spokesman for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

''The operations were designed to target the large terrorist element operating in the area of Fallujah,'' the U.S. command said. ''This element has been planning to use the holy month of Ramadan for attacks.''

Targets hit included several key planning centers, a weapons storage facility, two safe houses, a meeting site and several illegal checkpoints used by the al-Zarqawi network, the U.S. military said.

Late Thursday, Fallujah residents reported the most intensive shelling since U.S. forces began attacks aimed at al-Zarqawi's network. Later Friday, U.S. planes continued to fly overhead but the town remained quiet, residents said.

After the Green Zone attack in Baghdad, the U.S. military announced intensified security measures in several areas, including the zone and Baghdad airport.

The Americans killed in the Green Zone bombing were employees of DynCorp security company. Two other DynCorp employees and three State Department employees were wounded.

The attack was the first time bombers got inside the 4-square-mile compound - surrounded by concrete walls, razor wire, sandbag bunkers and guard posts - and detonated an explosive. A homemade bomb was found in the zone last week but was defused.

The U.S.-guarded enclave - home to about 10,000 Iraqis, government officials, foreign diplomats and military personnel - spreads along the banks of the Tigris River in the heart of the capital.

The zone is centered on Saddam Hussein's mammoth Republican Palace, and there are dozens of smaller palatial buildings, houses, office buildings and a hospital once used by high-ranking members of the old Baath Party regime.

Witnesses to the attack said two men were seen entering the Green Zone Cafe clutching large bags. The two men ordered tea and talked for about 20 minutes. Then one of the two walked out and hailed a taxi, the witnesses said. Minutes later a loud explosion rocked the compound.

Also Thursday, four U.S. soldiers were killed in Baghdad and Ramadi, the U.S. command said.


10-15-04 0959 EDT

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.




Updated: 03:55 AM EDT
U.S. Bombing Killed One Hostage, Freed Two Others
By HUSSEIN DAKROUB, AP



AP
Freed Lebanese hostage Aram Nalbandian, center, is helped by his relatives at Beirut airport Thursday.

BEIRUT, Lebanon (Oct. 15) - Two former Lebanese hostages returned home from Iraq, and their employer said a U.S. bombing that wounded both men, killed their Iraqi driver and their kidnappers had allowed them to escape.

Charbel Karam Haj and Aram Nalbandian, who work for a travel agency, were kidnapped Sept. 18 along with their driver, Ahmed Mirza, as they drove on a highway between Baghdad and the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, 40 miles to the west.

The kidnappers and Mirza were killed Wednesday when U.S. forces bombed the building in Fallujah where the three were being held, Fadi Yassin, the travey agency's owner, said at Beirut's airport after flying back from Baghdad with Haj and Nalbandian.

"Haj and Nalbandian were removed from under the rubble by some Fallujah mujahedeen (holy warriors)," Yassin said.

He said Haj suffered a fractured hip and Nalbandian had a broken ankle. They were taken to the American University Hospital.

Nalbandian said he and Haj did not expect to make it out alive.

"We were expecting death every minute," he said.

Haj, who said he was in great pain, refused to speak with journalists.

Nalbandian said the men were treated poorly shortly after the kidnapping, "but things improved later." He said the captors told them that British hostage Kenneth Bigley was being held captive in the same building, but they never saw him.

Bigley and two Americans captured with him were beheaded; the Tawhid and Jihad group, led by Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, claimed responsibility.

Insurgents in Iraq have kidnapped more than 150 foreigners in their campaign to drive out coalition forces and hamper reconstruction efforts. Most have been kidnapped for ransom and freed unharmed, but at least 30 have been killed.


10/15/04 02:04 EDT

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.

Link Posted: 10/15/2004 6:04:14 AM EST
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U.S. Marines Launch Attacks in Fallujah

Fri Oct 15, 2:15 AM ET Middle East - AP


By NADIA ABOU EL-MAGD, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq - U.S. Marines launched air and ground attacks Thursday on the insurgent bastion Fallujah after city representatives suspended peace talks with the government over Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's demand to hand over terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.


AP Photo


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Late Thursday, residents of the city, 40 miles west of Baghdad, reported shuddering American bombardments using planes and armored vehicles in what they said was the most intensive shelling since U.S. forces began weeks of "precision strikes" aimed at al-Zarqawi's network.


In Washington, however, a senior military official, speaking on operational matters on condition of anonymity, described the latest fighting as strikes against specific targets and of the same scope as previous attacks into Fallujah.


Warplanes and artillery pounded the city as two U.S. Marine battalions attacked rebel positions to "restore security and stability," 1st Lt. Lyle Gilbert, a spokesman for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, told CNN.


"It is going to be a long night," he said.


Maj. Francis Piccoli, spokesman for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, told The Associated Press that two Marine battalions were engaged in the fight backed up by aircraft.


He would not say the attack was the start of a major campaign to recapture the city, saying he did not want to jeopardize any future operations.


Piccoli said the goal of the operation was to "disrupt the capabilities of the anti-Iraqi forces."


"Ultimately, the intent is to help the Iraqi government bring in democracy," he added. "As you bring in sustained security and stability, the Iraqi government can build on as they go into elections" in January.


U.S. officials believe al-Zarqawi's terrorist group, Tawhid and Jihad, is headquartered in Fallujah. The group purportedly claimed responsibility for two suicide bombings inside the heavily guarded Green Zone in Baghdad on Thursday, according to a statement posted on a Web site known for its Islamic content. The unprecedented attack killed six people, including three Americans and a fourth who was missing and presumed dead.


The U.S. military said its targets were linked to al-Zarqawi's terrorist network, including a building being used to store weapons, two safehouses used to plan attacks, several illegal checkpoints and a weapons cache.


At least five people were killed and 16 wounded, according to Fallujah General Hospital.


Fallujah residents said the Americans were attacking several areas with rockets, artillery and tanks. One resident said U.S. forces were using loudspeakers in the west of the city to urge Fallujah fighters to lay down their arms "because we are going to push into Fallujah."


Residents reached by telephone from Baghdad also said there were sharp clashes in the northern part of the city, which was a major battlefield during last April's Marine siege of Fallujah.


Allawi warned Wednesday that Fallujah must surrender al-Zarqawi and other foreign fighters or face military attack.


Abu Asaad, spokesman for the religious council of Fallujah, said that "handing over al-Zarqawi" was an "impossible condition" since even the Americans were unable to catch him.


"Since we exhausted all peaceful solutions, the city is now ready to bear arms and defend its religion and honor and it's not afraid of Allawi's statements," Asaad said in a live interview with Al-Jazeera television.





However, he used the Arabic word for "suspend," implying that the talks could resume later.

"We are not afraid of Ayad Allawi's statements or the American troops," Asaad said. "The government now is an (American) agent that is working to make this city easy for American troops to enter and do what they want."

Negotiations had been aimed at restoring government control to Fallujah, which fell under the domination of clerics and their armed mujahedeen followers after the end of the three-week Marine siege last April.

"Military operations didn't even stop when the negotiating delegation was in Baghdad," Asaad said. "Dozens are killed every day. Entire families have been eliminated."

The government made no comment about the breakdown of the Fallujah talks. However, national security adviser Qassem Dawoud said military operations against Fallujah "will continue" until the city "has been cleansed" of "terrorists."

Dawoud said he is hopeful the delegation will succeed in ridding the city of insurgents.

"I hope they can succeed and can take them away from Fallujah as soon as possible, or otherwise, we're preparing ourselves to smash them ... by military means," he said.





No good pics yet
Link Posted: 10/15/2004 6:16:51 AM EST
Reduce that town to dust, THEN negotiate.
Link Posted: 10/15/2004 6:19:42 AM EST

Originally Posted By gus:
Reduce that town to dust, THEN negotiate.



Check the first article, this morning we ARRESTED the head of the terrorists negotiating team after he left the mosque from Friday mornng prayers.

I would say that means negotiations are done for now...
Link Posted: 10/15/2004 7:12:57 AM EST

Originally Posted By ArmdLbrl:

Originally Posted By gus:
Reduce that town to dust, THEN negotiate.



Check the first article, this morning we ARRESTED the head of the terrorists negotiating team after he left the mosque from Friday mornng prayers.

I would say that means negotiations are done for now...



That was kinda my point. No more negotiations. They have no honor anyway, so why negotiate knowing they will not abide by any agreed upon terms. Just get it over with and move on to the next troublesome village.
Link Posted: 10/15/2004 9:39:26 AM EST

Originally Posted By gus:
Reduce that town to dust, THEN negotiate. MOAB it


\
fixed it for ya!
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