Evidence Aids Coalition in Insurgent Crackdown
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 3, 2004 Evidence found by coalition and Iraqi forces in Fallujah provides chilling proof that the insurgency there was heavily armed and dug in and prepared to fight, a senior official from the Joint Staff told reporters here today.
As the coalition keeps these extremists on the run to prevent them from establishing another safe haven, this evidence is also providing valuable clues, said Army Brig. Gen David Rodriguez, deputy director for regional operations on the Joint Staff, at a Pentagon briefing. He said the coalition found in clearing Fallujah "evidence of an enemy who fully intended to fight the Iraqi and coalition forces and disrupt the process for a future, free Iraq."
Much of the evidence found is still being analyzed, Rodriguez said, but it reveals insight into a determined enemy armed to the teeth and unfazed by international or moral law.
Coalition forces clearing the city found 350 weapons and ammunition cache sites, several torture sites, including videos of beheadings, a chemical lab with books about anthrax, blood agents and explosive materials, and improvised- explosive-device factories. Also found, he said, was enough food and water to sustain the enemy through a fight.
Rodriguez said the coalition also found clear evidence that the insurgents were using several hospitals, cemeteries and about 25 mosques as fighting positions, "clearly in violation of international law."
The success of Operation Al Fajr "struck a serious blow to the insurgency in Fallujah," Rodriguez said. "By denying them the use of the city as a safe haven, Fallujah is no longer a terrorist center for command and control, supply, weapon storage, nor is it a base of operations."
But Rodriguez said much work remains ahead. The coalition is using information gleaned in Fallujah as it "continues to take the fight to the enemy" and keeps the enemy on the run. This, he said, helps foil any attempts by insurgents to re-establish the stronghold they lost in Fallujah.
Other information to be garnered is expected "to help us in the near future," he said.
Meanwhile, Rodriguez acknowledged that the insurgents are continuing their "aggressive campaign of intimidation" against Iraqis who support a new, free Iraq particularly those serving in the Iraqi security forces.
Despite violence against these forces, Rodriguez said there's no slowdown in the number of Iraqis willing to step forward and volunteer for these positions considered to be so critical to Iraq's future stability.
The Iraqi security forces are exhibiting the full range of capabilities, some fresh out of training and relatively unseasoned, and others demonstrating that they're ready for "tough operations in urban terrain," Rodriguez said.
He reminded reporters that the coalition was essentially "building this Army from scratch." The challenge ahead is to continue the mentoring and leadership training necessary for them to rise to the challenges they will face as they assume a greater role in their country's security, he said.
Rodriguez said he's confidence that the Iraqi security forces are moving toward that objective. "There's been continual improvement over the last seven months," he said.