[R-G] Marine convoy gets out of Fallujah in 1 hr., then people celebrate victory
ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Tue May 11 19:54:49 MDT 2004
Fallujah Rebels, Residents, Police Celebrate Victory over U.S. Marines
by Dahr Jamail (bio)
Fallujah, Iraq , May 10 - The US 1st Marine Division sent a small convoy
into Fallujah today in order to meet with the mayor and show cooperation
with the Iraqi Police (IP) and Iraqi Civil Defense Corps (ICDC). But the
supposed show of force was a pre-arranged exercise. Immediately
following the Marines' departure, the embattled city erupted into what
could only be described as a huge victory celebration over the US
military.Residents were joined by fully armed resistance fighters who
intermingled freely with uniformed IP and ICDC personnel.
At roughly 11:00 this morning, several American Humvees and Stryker
vehicles entered the downtown area of Fallujah, accompanied by pick-up
trucks full of members of both the IP and ICDC, who traveled in front
of, beside, and behind the military convoy. The small convoy slowly made
its way inside the heavily blockaded Tribal Council compound.
A 1st Marine Division press release about the exercise says Marines
"traveled into Fallujah today to exercise freedom of movement and meet
with city officials."
Members of both the Iraqi Police and Iraqi Civil Defense Corps joined
armed mujahideen in celebration, waving their guns in the air and
flashing the two-fingered "Victory" sign.
Abdul Rahman, a captain in the ICDC, explained the Marines' exercise as
a negotiated concession. "There were negotiations between the people of
Fallujah and the occupation forces," Captain Rahman said. "The plan is
for the Americans to pull all of their troops out of the city after they
get this one patrol."
After pausing to look at the military vehicles inside the compound,
Rahman added, "We want them out of our country."
Nervous residents of the recently besieged city watched quietly from
sidewalks as the vehicles sat for about 30 minutes inside the Tribal
Council complex, behind concrete barriers some eight feet high. The
scores of Iraqi Police and Iraqi Civil Defense Core members who had
accompanied that patrol now guarded the building.
In the Marines' press release, 1st Lieutenant Eric Knapp, the Public
Affairs Officer for the 1st Marine Division, states, "Cooperation
between Coalition and Iraqi Forces in Fallujah is symbolic of the
solidarity between all who share a vision of a secure and prosperous
But at least some members of those Iraqi forces saw the situation
Just outside the compound walls, Alla Hamdalide, a member of the ICDC
forces said his unit was required to protect the Marines. "We brought
the Americans from the bridge into the city," he said. "They couldn't
even come in here alone. The victory for Fallujah remains."
Despite the extremely tense and somber atmosphere outside, Major General
James Mattis met with the mayor of Fallujah inside the compound where
they reportedly discussed plans to rebuild the city.
After only half an hour inside the compound, again with scores of IP and
ICDC riding in pick-up trucks and surrounding the Marines' vehicles, the
patrol slowly made its way back out of the city. No gunfire was reported
during the event.
Immediately after the patrol left the area, spontaneous celebrations
erupted as crowds of residents gathered in the street and began chanting
and waving banners. Members of both the Iraqi Police and Iraqi Civil
Defense Corps joined in the celebration, waving their guns in the air
and flashing the two-fingered "Victory" sign.
An elderly Fallujah resident riding in the back of a truck, waving a
traditional Iraqi flag, yelled, "Today is the first day of the war
against the Americans! This is a victory for us over the Americans!"
Resistance fighters, called mujahideen ("freedom fighters") by locals,
mixed in with the crowd of unarmed civilians, police and Iraqi soldiers.
Brandishing rocket propelled grenade launchers (RPGs), Kalashnikov
assault rifles and hand grenades, they paraded on trucks as thousands of
residents began to move up and down the main street in an impromptu
US military officials have admitted that among the Iraqi forces making
up the Fallujah Brigade, which they say will be relied upon to maintain
security in the city, are an unknown number of guerillas who confronted
US Marines just last month at the peak of fighting here. The new brigade
is led in part by Ba'athist officers who served in the military under
ousted dictator Saddam Hussein.
Ahmed Saadoun Jassin, a uniformed Iraqi Policeman hired and trained by
the US occupation authority, didn't bother containing his joy at seeing
the Marines leave. "I can't describe to you the happiness I feel right
now," he said. "This is a victory for Islam."
When asked about cooperating with the Marines, Jassin explained, "This
was the deal that was negotiated. They couldn't stay in Fallujah for
over one hour, which they didn't."
Shop owners threw handfuls of candy at the passing crowds. Many of the
people celebrating waved old Iraqi flags, while some held up copies of
Music blared from mosques as vehicles carrying both armed mujahideen and
celebrating residents of Fallujah made their way up and down the main
street of the city. Members of the IP, ICDC and several of the
resistance fighters were seen firing their guns into the air.
The 1st Marine Division made no mention of the agreed restrictions Iraqi
police and soldiers said were placed on the Marines to ensure them safe
travel in their press release.
"Fallujans reportedly waved to the Marines as they made their way in and
out of the city... Freedom of movement in Fallujah, like that
demonstrated by today's visit, is a crucial component in the process of
setting the conditions necessary to rebuild and revitalize the city,"
wrote Lt. Knapp. "This display of teamwork serves notice to those who
violently oppose stability in Iraq; they are nothing more than unwanted
barriers on the road to a truly free Iraq."
One resistance fighter riding on the roof of a truck while wielding an
RPG stated, "They [the Marines] just made the people of the world laugh
at them. But I think they will come back, because they don't keep their
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