Coalition forces set sights on other cities where fighting is breaking out
Stars and Stripes November 17, 2004
ARLINGTON, Va. — With military operations winding down in Fallujah, U.S. and coalition forces are starting to turn their firepower to other cities where fighting is breaking out with increasing intensity, according to a Marine commander who is directing part of the Fallujah fight.
U.S. forces have now secured “100 percent of Fallujah,” according to Col. Michael Regner, operations director of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.
“The city is basically secure, and we can go wherever we want,” Regner told reporters in the Pentagon on Monday afternoon from Camp Fallujah, a remote Marine base just outside the city.
However, securing the city is not the same as fully controlling it, Regner added.
Moreover, “some portions of the city are more clear than others,” Regner said.
Marines have detained 1,052 apparent fighters, Regner said, of whom only a handful — no more than 20 — appear to be foreign fighters.
According to Regner, “We have had 37 Marines and soldiers killed in action” in the fighting in Fallujah, while there was one “noncombat death” in the city over the weekend, which he did not define.
There have been 320 U.S. forces wounded in action, Regner said, with 134 of those “returned to duty” after receiving medical attention.
Six Iraqis taking part in the coalition have been killed, with another 28 wounded, of whom two have been returned to duty, Regner said.
Meanwhile, Marines are now involved in the city of Ramadi, the provisional seat of Al Anbar province, Regner said.
“For a week now, [Ramadi] has been tougher,” Regner said, prompting the Marines to send in two full battalions of fighters to quell fighting in the past 48 hours.
Marines have found “a number of weapons caches, and a number of terrorists have been killed or captured” in Ramadi, Regner said. “But it is not a cleared city.”
Regner said that some of the anti-coalition fighters in Ramadi and other Iraq cities could be fighters who escaped from Fallujah at some point during the battle, which is now in its eighth day.