American Marines are still facing tough opposition as they take control of Falluja. The army says around 1,200 militants have been killed and several hundred arrested during the week-long offensive. Over 30 American soldiers have been killed. Fallujah was considered to be the centre of insurgent operations, and US commanders believe it has to be taken under Coalition control if the uprising is to be tamed. They say they have discovered torture chambers and hostage detention centres during their raids.
Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation is deteriorating. The fighting means US forces have blocked seven Red Crescent trucks from delivering aid to civilians in Falluja. A father and son trapped in the city said they were relieved the battle is almost over. “We lost track of our family, when the Iraqi soldiers came we asked them to take us with them,” he said.
Events in Falluja have fuelled violence in towns and cities across the Sunni Muslim heartland of Iraq. In Mosul, gunmen have been seen roaming the streets and attacking police stations. There were similar scenes in Ramadi, where American soldiers clashed with militants brandishing machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.
In Buhriz, hundreds of Iraqis took part in a protest against the interim Iraqi Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi. They called him a “thug”, and an “agent of the Americans”.