Resistance may have largely crumbled in Falluja, but the battle is not over, as house-to-house searches, airstrikes and artillery attacks continue. As fighting enters its second week, US and Iraqi forces are focusing on scattered pockets of rebel activity, especially in the south of the devastated city. Around 150,000 residents have fled, and aid agencies have described the humanitarian situation as “disastrous”.
Meanwhile the human rights group Amnesty International has said it is worried both US-Iraqi forces and the rebels may have ignored rules intended to protect civilians. It is feared that many have been killed. The offensive has left 38 US troops, six Iraqi soldiers and over 1,000 insurgents dead.
It has also triggered a wave of militant attacks in cities such as Baquba in Iraq’s Sunni heartland. In the northern city of Mosul, seven policemen and 30 rebels were killed. Insurgents have also intensified sabotage operations against the country’s oil infrastructure, striking a storage tank along the main export pipeline to Turkey and blowing up five wells near Kirkuk.