Fighting bands of guerrillas in the streets, US troops pushed through the centre of the rebel stronghold of Fallujah on Tuesday to retake the city from the Iraqi militants.
A total of 16 &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2002/10/22/38515.html ' target=_blank>Americans have been killed in the past two days across Iraq - including three killed in Fallujah today – most of them as guerrillas launched a wave of attacks in &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/diplomatic/2003/03/21/44776.html ' target=_blank>Baghdad and south-west of Fallujah, a senior Pentagon official said.
The 11 deaths on Monday were the highest one day US toll in more than six months, reports Ireland Online.
"Marines and Iraqi forces will get little sleep tonight," Major Francis Piccoli said by telephone from just outside Fallujah. "Any anti-Iraq forces moving through center of city would be ill-advised, from our side of the house."
The Pentagon says about 15,000 U.S. and &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/world/20/93/375/10079_iraqi.html ' target=_blank>Iraqi soldiers are part of the assault on an estimated 3,000 insurgents in the western city, which interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi has said must be pacified before national elections set for January.
"In places, there is house-to-house, street-to-street, room- to-room action," Piccoli said. He said that the operation was moving "much quicker" than an attempt to take the city in April.
The Fallujah operation is "on or ahead of schedule," with about a dozen U.S. soldiers killed or wounded, Lieutenant General Thomas Metz, commander of multinational forces in Iraq, said from Baghdad via a video link with reporters at the Pentagon. Iraqi forces "have performed admirably," he said, informs Bloomberg.
According to the ABC News, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said he hoped the violence "ends fast," adding that he was in touch with Iraqi officials. "No one can ever accept the way civilians are struck in Fallujah," he told reporters.