Leaders in Fallujah Have 'Days, Not Weeks' to Comply
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 22, 2004 It's a matter of "days not weeks" for Fallujans to demonstrate they are serious about honoring the agreement they made earlier this week, Coalition Provisional Authority spokesmen in Iraq said today.
Speaking during a Baghdad press conference, senior spokesman Dan Senor said Fallujans must turn over illegal heavy weapons and they must work "to remove foreign fighters, drug users, former Special Republican Guard, former Fedayeen Saddam and other serious, dangerous and violent criminals operating out of Fallujah."
U.S. Marines stand ready to restart offensive operations in Fallujah. The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force declared a unilateral cease-fire in the city April 9. Members of the Iraqi Governing Council have spoken with officials in Fallujah in hopes of defusing the situation and getting anti-coalition forces there under control.
"While we continue to be hopeful based on the intentions of those with whom we have been negotiating we do caution that we are in a mode right now of days, not weeks," Senor said. "Time is running out. We want to reach a peaceful resolution to the Fallujah situation."
Coalition military spokesman Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt called on those inside Fallujah to demonstrate leadership and convince the anti-coalition elements to lay down their arms. He said the coalition does not want more bloodshed, but is ready to resume offensive operations if needed. He said a further fight in the city can be avoided "if those leaders show leadership and go back and persuade the people that are holding their city hostage that this is the best deal that they're going to get."
Kimmitt said the heavy-arms turn-in has been something of a joke. The weapons turned over to Marines fit into the bed of a pick-up truck and were mostly outdated weapons or training rounds. "(We're) looking for a serious engagement, serious discussions from people who can deliver and not bring in rubbish or trash or junk," Kimmitt said. "(We're looking for) the heavy weapons that have been responsible for the recent engagements in Fallujah."
Operations continue throughout Iraq. There were 10 attacks in the north over the past 24 hours, Kimmitt said. Five of those attacks were aimed at Task Force Olympia personnel or members of the Iraqi security forces.
In the 1st Infantry Division's north-central area, Big Red One soldiers conducted a series of raids against safe houses near Balad, used by militia loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, Kimmitt said. The raids resulted in the detention of six targeted individuals and 15 other men.
The 1st Cavalry Division's Task Force Baghdad captured 18 enemy personnel and confiscated a large amount of ammunition over the past 24 hours.
In the western zone, three attacks took place against coalition and Iraqi security forces. Kimmitt said coalition forces continue to see anti-coalition forces fighting from fortified positions, misusing mosques as weapons storage sites and using them as command and control nodes.
Outside Fallujah, the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force continues aggressive patrols and offensive operations outside Fallujah. The Marines had to halt the movement of humanitarian assistance into Fallujah due to attacks on coalition forces. They have since resumed, military officials in Baghdad said.
In Basra, coalition forces are helping local authorities recover after the April 21 terror attacks, Kimmitt said. A total of 68 Iraqis were killed in a series of car bomb attacks. Many of those the terrorists killed were schoolchildren.