- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 10, 2003

FALLUJAH, Iraq — This is an angry town that sees itself as the center of a nationwide revolt against the U.S.-led occupation.

People chafe at the sight of U.S. soldiers, seethe at checkpoints around town and submit to weapons searches with a fury that is more likely to explode than subside.

“The resistance will be continuous and it will increase not only in Fallujah but all across Iraq. The resistance is organized and it will grow, but Fallujah is the center,” said Tariq Kamil, who sells cooking oil from a tiny shop at the local market.

Fallujah, some 30 miles west of Baghdad, is a predominantly Sunni Muslim community that benefited greatly from industrial projects under Saddam Hussein.

Ten American soldiers have been killed in ambushes across Iraq in the past 15 days, including one yesterday in a Baghdad attack with rocket-propelled grenades. Another soldier was wounded at a collection point for illegal weapons in the southwestern part of the Iraqi capital, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

In addition, four American soldiers were wounded in a series of raids to crack down on guerrillas north of Baghdad late Monday, in which 384 persons were detained.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said yesterday he expected remnants of Saddam’s forces to continue attacking U.S.-led troops in Iraq for months but that they would ultimately be rooted out.

“Do I think that’s going to disappear in the next month or two or three? No. Will it disappear when some two or three divisions of coalition forces arrive in the country? No,” Mr. Rumsfeld said at a news conference in Lisbon.

“It will take time to root out the remnants of the Saddam Hussein regime, and we intend to do it.”

In Fallujah alone, three U.S. soldiers have been killed since May 26. Fourteen have been wounded.

The situation has grown so serious here that the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, which was to have returned home after capturing Baghdad in early April, has been relocated to the area in an open-ended mobilization.

Central Command has nearly doubled its troops here in the last week.

“They is no need for them to be here, except to return our electricity, our oil, our security,” Mr. Kamil said.

He predicted that assaults on U.S. troops will continue, whether from children throwing stones or from organized guerrilla cells firing on checkpoints and other positions.

Merchants who have spontaneously gathered around him nodded enthusiastically.

Many chime in with their own claims of humiliation and degradation at the hands of U.S. troops.

“They are searching our women, and that is disrespectful,” said one merchant who sells towels and sheets.

In late April, at least 18 Iraqis were killed and scores wounded in a clash with U.S. troops at a demonstration.

Since then, the hatred here has risen faster than the summer temperatures.

U.S. troops have endured repeated attacks at checkpoints, mostly from heavily armed men in civilian vehicles.

Small boys have been throwing stones at U.S. troops instead of flashing the thumbs-up so many soldiers are still receiving in Baghdad.

And women, who rarely venture into the streets except in small groups, freely vent anger upon the Americans.

“We miss our president, Saddam Hussein,” said Matra Abid, an old woman with enormous, tattooed hands and a commanding sense of anger. “When I look at them, I am disgusted. It is like looking at pigs.”

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