- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 13, 2004

FALLUJAH, Iraq — U.S. military officials said yesterday that American troops had “occupied” the entire city of Fallujah and there were no more major concentrations of insurgents still fighting after nearly a week of intense urban combat.

Iraqi officials declared the operation to free Fallujah of militants was “accomplished,” but acknowledged the two most-wanted figures in the city — Jordanian terror mastermind Abu Musab Zarqawi and Sheik Abdullah al-Janabi — had escaped.

U.S. officers said, however, that resistance had not been entirely subdued and that it still could take several days of fighting to clear the final pockets.

A Red Crescent convoy reached Fallujah yesterday with the first aid since U.S.-led forces began the offensive.

The offensive against Fallujah killed at least 24 American troops and an estimated 1,000 insurgents, and rebel attacks elsewhere — especially in the northern city of Mosul — have forced the Americans to shift troops away from Fallujah.

Exploiting the deployment, insurgents stepped up attacks in areas outside Fallujah, including a bombing that killed two Marines on the outskirts of the city.

Military activity also surged along the Euphrates River valley well to the north and west of Baghdad, with clashes reported in Qaim on the Syrian border and in Hit and Ramadi, nearer to the capital.

A series of thunderous explosions rocked central Baghdad after sunset yesterday, and sirens wailed in the fortified green zone, which houses major Iraqi government offices and the U.S. Embassy.

There was no immediate explanation for the blasts, but the terrorist group Ansar al-Sunnah Army later claimed responsibility for firing several rockets at the zone.

A car bomb exploded on the main road to Baghdad airport, and there was fighting near the Education Ministry in the heart of the capital.

Insurgents also attacked a military base outside Baghdad yesterday, killing one coalition soldier and wounding three others, the U.S. military said. The nationalities of the casualties weren’t immediately available.

Baghdad’s international airport, closed to civilian traffic since Nov. 7, was ordered yesterday to remain closed.

Police said at least four persons were killed and 29 wounded during a U.S. air strike on rebels and clashes yesterday in the Abu Ghraib suburb of western Baghdad. One Iraqi was killed and 10 wounded in fighting between U.S. troops and insurgents in the northern city of Tal Afar.

Flames and thick black smoke billowed after saboteurs attacked an oil pipeline north of Baghdad last night, witnesses said.

The oil pipeline carries crude oil from Taji, 12 miles north of Baghdad, to the Dora refinery in Baghdad.

Witnesses said insurgents have virtually controlled the town of Taji for the last several days, distributing leaflets warning people not to leave their houses or open their shops.

In Fallujah, meanwhile, the London Sunday Telegraph quoted families fleeing the city as saying rebel fighters had slipped through the American and Iraqi military cordon and driven away to fight elsewhere in Iraq.

The fighters, said to include foreign terrorists using satellite telephones, are believed to be heading for Baghdad and the northern city of Mosul.

President Bush warned yesterday that insurgent and terrorist violence in Iraq could worsen as the January elections draw near. “The desperation of the killers will grow and the violence could escalate,” Mr. Bush said.

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