Not a lot of detailed info coming out of Fallujah, which is understandable and as it should be.
(ACE has a great map. Check it out.)
The big push seems to have started, with the most significant developments appearing to be
- The capture of the hospital in the western section of the city this morning by Iraqi forces who met no resistance
- The entrance of the US Marines into the Jolan neighborhood, which is a tough spot. It’s not clear whether the Marines entered from the north or if they crossed the Euphrates. Or both. Many of the Leathernecks are on the roofs in Jolan, which means any bad guys better keep their heads down if they want to keep them and hints that the Marine snipers are out to get some.
- The 1st Infantry (Big Red One alert!) has entered Askari, the other recognized tough neighborhood.
A fair amount of armor and artillery seems to be among the forces sweeping into the city, though the reports of rooftop Marines indicates that the cautious approach used previously in Fallujah and more recently in Najaf is once again the plan. These small groups of enemy fighters might slow things down and even cause some casualties, but the methodical approach we’ve seen previously basically means those small outfits have received their death sentence.
As we drive in from the west, northwest, and northeast, the smaller groups of insurgents will probably gel into larger units. These, of course, will have the capability of causing great damage. Or of being wiped out by a single airstrike.
I’m not sure what the situation in the southern sections of the city is. Those areas, if I’m not mistaken, aren’t nearly as hairy as the northern sections east of the Euphrates. I don’t know if we’re going to try and push the enemy through those neighborhoods in the direction of siege forces south of the city, or if we mean to destroy the enemy in place. I suspect the latter.
The fighting will go on pretty heavily for several days or a week, probably, and then the bad guys will be down to a few city blocks or so, cornered in a mosque or a school or something. Then we’ll probably see a long stand-off similar to what went on in Najaf.
Or maybe the Iraqis will storm the enemy stronghold, as I expected they would in Najaf. Allawi seems dead serious about ending the Fallujah/Ramadi insurgency. I don’t think this will end indecisively this time.
(Also keep an eye on Belmont Club. He’s usually a lot more optimistic than I am, but I certainly don’t disagree with his analysis.)