11/15/2004

Yahoo! News - Insurgent Attacks Spread In Iraq

Yahoo! News - Insurgent Attacks Spread In Iraq: "Insurgent Attacks Spread In Iraq

Mon Nov 15,10:10 PM ET

Top Stories - washingtonpost.com

By Karl Vick and Jackie Spinner, Washington Post Foreign Service

BAGHDAD, Nov. 15 -- Insurgent attacks spread Monday to another Sunni Muslim city, Baqubah and a nearby village, where bands of armed men attacked two police stations simultaneously, the U.S. military said. American forces used airstrikes to blunt the assault, the latest that insurgents have launched in apparent response to the U.S. offensive in Fallujah."

Two 500-pound bombs were dropped on insurgent positions after a two-hour firefight in which guerrilla reinforcements arrived by bus, took positions on a roof and blocked a road, according to the U.S. military.

Fighting continued in Mosul, a city of 1.8 million, where large numbers of insurgents went on the offensive late last week. "I expect the next few days will bring some hard fighting," said Brig. Gen. Carter Ham, the senior U.S. commander in the area. "The situation in Mosul is tense but not desperate."

U.S. forces last week stormed into Fallujah, which insurgents had controlled since spring. American policymakers portrayed the operation as a decisive move to clean out a major stronghold of foreign fighters and Iraqis opposed to the country's interim government.

The insurgents have struck back hard in Fallujah and also turned up the heat in many other cities dominated by Sunni Muslims, who were favored over the majority Shiite Muslims by the government of former president Saddam Hussein (news - web sites). Operating in unusually large groups, fighters have attacked in Ramadi, to the west of Fallujah, and Samarra, Baiji, Tall Afar, Hawija and Mosul to the north.

Their strategy was stated Monday in a new recording attributed to Abu Musab Zarqawi, the Jordanian leader of a large insurgent group affiliated with al Qaeda. If the U.S. military "finishes Fallujah, it will move in your direction," the voice said to be Zarqawi's warned followers. "Beware and deny it the chance to carry out this plan."

The speaker said that U.S. forces were overextended and would be unable to respond everywhere. "Shower them with rockets and mortars and cut all the supply routes," he said.

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