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‘Pacifiedâ€TM Samarra flies out of control on eve of Fallujah assault

by Lisa Ashkenaz Croke

Nov. 7, 2004 – Despite last month's offensive against the Sunni Triangle city of Samarra, which US military officials reported was "recaptured" in a devastating two-day air and ground assault, rebels were able to carry out multiple staggering attacks there Saturday. Local mujahideen killed an estimated 29 people and wounded 40 others. Half the casualties were Iraqi policemen.

The US military told the Associated Press that seventeen police and twelve civilians had been killed. Another seventeen policemen were also reportedly among the injured.

Saturday's bombings came as US air crews continued their own bombardment of Fallujah in anticipation of a massive ground offensive expected to be launched against that city at any moment.

Samarra General Hospital told reporters it saw at least 70 dead in October, including 18 women and 23 children, plus 160 wounded. The US declared that it killed 125 "insurgents" and captured another 88, including 40 designated as foreign fighters.

The offensive in Fallujah is expected to be even more devastating. Five thousand ground troops fought in Samarra last month. Now, 10,000 US Marines surround Fallujah, awaiting orders to pour in and "liberate" the city from local mujahideen as well as a cadre of fighters said to be loyal to reputed Jordanian terrorist, Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi. It is Al-Zarqawi's group that has reportedly claimed responsibility for Saturday's chaos in Samarra.

While the invasion force might be double the size of that used to temporarily secure Samarra, resistance is expected to be much heavier, as well. By US military estimates, there are 3,000 Iraqi "insurgents" in and around Fallujah, 1,200 of them within the city limits.

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Lisa Ashkenaz Croke is a contributing journalist.

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