23 US Troops Killed in 2 Days
Guerrilla and Civilian Toll Unknown
Associated Press surveys developments on Tuesday, including the deaths of 10 US troops in the fighting at Fallujah along with 2 Iraqi National Guardsmen. 11 troops had been killed on Monday, though the military spokesman did not give details.
The US continued to bombard the city heavily, destroying buildings and the Abbasi Restaurant. A US military spokesman estimated the number of guerrillas dead as a result of the bombing and of artillery fire at 90. Fallujah hospital said that 12 civilians had been killed and 17 wounded.
CNN was reporting on Tuesday afternoon that the US troops had taken about 1/3 of Fallujah, which suggests that they are meeting very heavy resistance. The fighting is much harder here than it was at Baghdad during the war! Al-Hayat Wednesday morning was saying via AFP that US troops had reached the center of the city.
Al-Hayat reports that in Baqubah, guerrillas attacked two police stations, killing 25 policemen, with 4 guerrillas killed; many persons were wounded.
In Mosul, guerrillas fired mortar rounds at a US base, killing two US troops.
A curfew was maintained in Baghdad. In some Sunni Arab cities, government offices closed altogether.
” A group of Iraqi Sunni clerics called for a boycott of the election. The vote is being held ”over the corpses of those killed in Fallujah,” said Harith al-Dhari, director of the Association of Muslim Clerics. A major Sunni political party quit the interim Iraqi government in protest over the U.S. assault.”
The AMS blamed PM Allawi for what it characterized as the bloodletting in Fallujah: “The interim Government of [Prime Minister] Iyad Allawi bears full legal and historical responsibility for the war of annihilation Fallujah is exposed to today at the hands of the occupation forces and militias of some parties in the interim Government.” The Association of Muslim Scholars [or clerics] has been calling for a boycott of the election for some months, but had been opposed by other Sunni parties that felt it was crucial for the Sunni voice to be heard. At this point, the AMS appears to be winning the argument. Harith Al-Dhari, by the way, is quite popular among Sunni Muslims, and had a 25% favorability rating in the September poll by the International Republican Institute. Since Sunni Arabs are only 16-20% of the population, that means all Sunnis like him and so do some Shiites or Kurds.
The Iraqi Islamic Party headed by Muhsin Abdul Hamid, formally pulled out of the Allawi government over the assault on Fallujah on Tuesday. The IIP is less popular than the AMS, but had tended to cooperate with the Americans (Abdul Hamid had served on the Interim Governing Council under Paul Bremer).
Al-Hayat says that the Iraqi Islamic Party had expelled from its ranks Hajim al-Hasani, the Minister of Industry, because he declined to resign from Allawi’s cabinet as demanded by the party leadership.
Asahi Shimbun reports that Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawir is bitterly opposed to the Fallujah operation, and likened it to “shooting horses to kill horseflies.”