Three-Hour Battle Between US Forces and Iraqi Resistance in Tal Afar,
13 Killed Mostly Policemen
US military sources say 60-70 Iraqi resistance attacks are conducted
everyday. The following is a Reuters news report about few of them.
Sat Jun 25, 2005 12:33 PM ET
By Alastair Macdonald BAGHDAD (Reuters) -
Iraqi resistance fighters stormed a police station in western Iraq on
Saturday and fought a three-hour battle with U.S. and Iraqi forces in
the north, challenging assertions from Washington that the resistance
is being crushed.
A day after news of a bomb attack that killed six Americans intruded
on talks between President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim
Ja'afari, the killing of eight policemen at Ramadi and combat at Tal
Afar provided further evidence that Iraqi and foreign fighters remain
Bush used a weekly radio address to reject criticism from opposition
Democrats that he had embroiled U.S. forces in a "quagmire" like that
of Vietnam 30 years ago and insisted his two-pronged military and
diplomatic strategy would work.
Police said about 20 gunmen stormed the station at Ramadi, capital of
Al-Anbar province, the second such raid in a week. Residents and
officials at Tal Afar, near Mosul, where U.S. troops have cracked down
this month, said three bomb attacks were followed by a battle
involving U.S. tanks and helicopters that lasted about three hours.
In Samarra, north of Baghdad, police said at least five people were
killed and 10 wounded by a car bomb that went off near the home of a
senior police officer.
"Our military strategy is clear: We will train Iraqi security forces
so they can defend their freedom and protect their people and then our
troops will return home with the honor they have earned," Bush said in
his radio address.
"The political track of our strategy is to continue helping Iraqis
build the institutions of a stable democracy."
On Friday, Bush and Ja'afari both dismissed calls for a timetable to
be set for pulling out the 140,000 or so U.S. troops in Iraq. Bush
said they would complete their mission.
U.S. commanders in Iraq stress that Iraqi forces, disbanded on U.S.
orders after the US 2003 invasion, are still in the early stages of
renewal and will continue to depend on U.S. firepower for some
considerable time to come -- quite how long, they say, it is too early
to even estimate.
General John Abizaid, commander for the Middle East, acknowledged this
week that the resistance had not weakened and that more foreigners
were coming to join the fight.
Towns like Ramadi and Tal Afar, on routes into Iraq from Syria, have
been important objectives for U.S. and Iraqi forces trying to stem the
flow of Arab fighters coming to help fellow Sunni Arabs fight the
Americans and their allies in Iraq.
Foreigners remain a small part of the resistance, U.S. commanders say,
but form a spearhead for the kind of suicide bomb attack that
inflicted Thursday's casualties in Falluja.
Of six killed when the attacker drove into a Marine truck loaded with
troops, four were women, military officials said, as were 11 of the 13
wounded. Their duties were to search women passing through checkpoints
that U.S. forces have used to try to control the town, between Baghdad
and Ramadi, since Marines stormed in and captured the rebel stronghold
Such was the damage caused by the blast that it took a day for the
military to confirm the full death toll.
The willingness of hundreds of people to kill themselves in such
attacks, and the fact there seems little let up, is a source of
concern to troops who find them hard to counter.
While buried roadside bombs were the biggest killer of U.S. troops --
more than 1,730 have died in Iraq already -- the suicide car attack
could be harder to prevent: "This is basically their best guided
weapons system," said Lieutenant Colonel Steven Boylan, a military
spokesman in Baghdad.
The Falluja attack was one of the bloodiest of the war on U.S. ground
forces and the third this month in which five or more occupants of a
military vehicle have been killed.
U.S. commanders describe an arms race against evolving resistance
tactics and are concerned at recent successes resistance fighters have
had with more powerful charges. The country is awash with heavy
munitions left over from Saddam's arsenal.
The attack on the Ramadi police station had elements of previous such
raids that have become more frequent in the past six to eight months,
in which U.S. officials describe resistance fighters, some of whom may
be led by former officers in the Iraqi army, employing infantry
tactics similar to those of regular troops.
This week, more than 100 resistance fighters were estimated to have
taken part in raid on a Baghdad police station and were only driven
off by the arrival of U.S. helicopters and troops.
Such raids have little chance of success against U.S. technology. But
the use of such tactics raises a possibility they might be used to
take and hold territory against the Shi'i-Kurdish government forces in
a civil war of the kind some fear could follow a U.S. withdrawal.
(Additional reporting by Majid Hamed in Ramadi and Maher al-Thanoon in
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