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Saturday, November 13, 2004

The Rhinelander Daily News-U.S. Says Troops Occupy All of Fallujah

U.S. Says Troops Occupy All of Fallujah

FALLUJAH, Iraq - U.S. military officials said Saturday that American troops had now "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.

A U.S. officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Fallujah was "occupied but not subdued." Artillery and airstrikes also were halted after nightfall to prevent mistaken attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces who had taken up positions throughout the city.

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 al-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.

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 redeployment, insurgents stepped up attacks in areas outside Fallujah, including a bombing that killed two Marines on the outskirts of the former rebel bastion 40 miles west of Baghdad.

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 Saturday, 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 Ansar al-Sunnah Army later claimed responsibility for firing several rockets at the zone. The claim's authenticity could not be verified.

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 Saturday, 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 was ordered Saturday to remain closed to civilian traffic for a further 24 hours, according to government adviser Georges Sada.

The airport was closed for 48 hours under the state of emergency imposed last Sunday and has remained shut under a series of one-day extensions ever since.

At least four people were killed and 29 wounded, police said, during a U.S. airstrike on rebels and clashes Saturday 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 of fire and heavy black smoke were billowing to the sky after saboteurs attacked an oil pipeline north of Baghdad Saturday 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.

The drive against remaining insurgent holdouts in southern Fallujah was aimed to eradicate the last major concentration of fighters at the end of nearly a week of air and ground assaults.

"We are just pushing them against the anvil," said Col. Michael Formica, commander of the 1st Cavalry Division's 2nd Brigade. "It's a broad attack against the entire southern front."

As a prelude to the Saturday assault, a U.S. warplane dropped a 500-pound bomb on an insurgent tunnel network in the city, CNN embedded correspondent Jane Arraf reported.

U.S. and Iraqi forces also have begun moving against insurgent sympathizers among Iraq's hardline Sunni religious leadership, arresting at least four prominent clerics and raiding offices of religious groups that had spoken out against the Fallujah assault.

U.S. officials said they hoped the latest attack would finish off the last pocket of significant resistance in Fallujah. Next was a planned house-to-house clearing operation to find boobytraps, weapons and guerrillas still hiding in the rubble.

In Baghdad, Iraqi National Security Adviser Qassem Dawoud proclaimed the Fallujah assault _ code-name Operation Al-Fajr, or "Dawn" _ was "accomplished" except for mopping up "evil pockets which we are dealing with now."

"The number of terrorists and Saddam (Hussein) loyalists killed has reached more than 1,000," Dawoud said. "As for the detainees, the number is 200 people."

The Rhinelander Daily News

Iraq Today

US Marines advance in the western part of Fallujah, Iraq Saturday, Nov. 13, 2004. Iraq's national security adviser Qassem Dawoud said Saturday the massive military operation to retake Fallujah 'is accomplished' with about 1,000 insurgents killed and 200 captured. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

U.S. Marines with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, rest in the stairwell of a building in Falluja, November 9, 2004. An Iraqi Red Crescent convoy entered Falluja on Saturday with the first supplies of aid to reach the city since U.S.-led forces began to blast their way in five days ago. Picture taken November 9, 2004. EDITORIAL USE ONLY REUTERS/Sgt. Luis R. Agostini-USMC Yahoo! News - World Photos - Reuters

A US Marine aims his gun after coming under attack in the western part of Fallujah, Iraq Saturday, Nov. 13, 2004. About 80 percent of the city was said to be under U.S. control, with insurgents pushed into a narrow corner. But the battle has claimed at least 24 American lives and wounded about 170 U.S. troops, and violence has now spread to other Sunni Muslim areas of Iraq. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus) Yahoo! News - World Photos - AP

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A Solider's Wedding

A Solider's Wedding
Written by Nancy Yamada

They may have to post-pone the honeymoon but an army soldier injured in Iraq and his fiancée aren't complaining.

They are getting a free wedding, courtesy of some generous Georgetown business owners. As W*USA 9 News reporter Nancy Yamada explains, it's intended to give a fresh start for a couple going through tough times.

As reported by Nancy Yamada

"I'm starting to putting the final touches on it.." A wedding cake for a couple she has never met. Saturday afternoon, it will sit front and center at the Four Seasons in Georgetown where Army Specialist Aaron Bugg and Lisa McCroskey will have the wedding of their dreams.

"I definitely support the troops who are in Iraq. And it's really nice to do something nice for good people." Lisa Kempf of the Georgetown Club is among the vendors who are donating their services to the army specialist and his bride to be.

In late September, while in Iraq, Bugg nearly lost his leg when a remote control bomb exploded under the Humvee he was riding in. Now in a wheelchair, when word got out that Bugg was engaged and recovering at the Walter Reed Medical Center, business owners like Ed Solomon wanted to do something special.

"My initial soon do they need it and how many do that need? Let's do it. It was that simple," Solomon said.

Solomon is donating the groom's tux as well as the entire bridal party's attire. "They're thanking me for the tuxedos and I'm thinking...'thanking me?' I'm thanking you...what you've gone through. And they're looking forward to a good future and they love each other," Solomon said.

And capturing their love on their special day will be photographer Lauren Burke. "We definitely owe a debt of gratitude. In my view, it's the least that we can do," Burke said.

Specialist Bugg's greatest wish is to walk down the aisle Saturday, he's been practicing with a walker. And if all goes according to plan, he and his new bride will be able to leave Walter Reed Medical Center in three to six months.

And the wedding almost didn't happen because of a military rule that doesn't allow soldiers to accept gifts. But after hearing the couple's story, the Army changed that rule, it now allows anyone to donate gifts to a non-profit military organization that will then distribute the donations as it sees fit.

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