Flattening Fallujah just gave the insurgents more places to hide.
U.S. Marines clashed with insurgents in the battered city of Fallujah on Thursday with warplanes dropping bombs and tanks shelling suspected guerrilla positions on a day when a first group of residents displaced by fighting were scheduled to return.
It was unclear what caused the clashes, but Marine officers said that both sides had suffered casualties.
We supposedly subdued Samarra last fall. Apparently, no one told the Samarrans.
The frustrating dead end was a symptom of what officers here agree is a virtual intelligence meltdown in Samarra, a city 65 miles north of Baghdad in the Sunni Triangle, an area where the insurgency runs deep. Rebels have intimidated the local population, launching attacks from neighborhoods where residents now fear the consequences of helping the American occupiers.
The insurgents have become bolder in the past few weeks, posting signs at schools that say the United States is losing the war and claiming that American forces suffered tens of thousands of casualties in the battle for Fallujah. When a soldier went to remove one of the signs on Tuesday, someone fired a machine gun at him.
The dangers are not hard to find. Within an hour on Tuesday, Capt. William A. Rockefeller, 35, of Virginia Beach, encountered three mines. Two were Italian-made antitank mines placed along paths where U.S. troops were expected to drive. Rockefeller’s patrol had traveled one roadway minutes before one of the mines was apparently laid down; insurgents knew the troops would be making a return trip.
The third mine was left 150 yards from the entrance to Patrol Base Uvanni, where the U.S. troops live.
While soldiers worked to defuse it, a mortar round went off nearby, forcing Rockefeller to move his soldiers to a nearby abandoned home for cover.
The attackers apparently crossed a checkpoint run by Iraqi National Guardsmen without being stopped, officials said.