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Top Iraqi General Praises Coalition Efforts in Fallujah

By John Valceanu
American Forces Press Service

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Nov. 15, 2004 – A top Iraqi military leader today praised coalition efforts to free Fallujah of terrorists and insurgent fighters.

During a meeting in Fallujah Nov. 14, Gen. Babakir Zebari, chief of the Iraqi Military Staff, thanked U.S. Army Gen. John Abizaid, commander of the U.S. Central Command, and U.S. Marine Lt. Gen. John Sattler, commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, on "their success in the area of Fallujah."

Coalition forces and Iraqi military units have been fighting for almost two weeks in Fallujah to exterminate anti-Iraqi forces using the city as a sanctuary. The name given to the operation is Al Fajr, which means "Dawn" in English.

"This is a step in the right direction. I want to thank the U.S. generals for helping us to coordinate the battle and inviting us to participate in the operation," Zebari said.

As of today, coalition forces had essentially assumed control of the city, which is located about 30 miles west of Baghdad, and they were stamping out isolated pockets of resistance. Zebari underscored the importance of this mission to the Iraqi citizens of Fallujah.

"We are trying to purify the city and making it free of threats so people don't have to live with the threat of being kidnapped or being killed," Zebari said. "The coalition forces are conducting operations against those who are persecuting the innocent."

Zebari said he is aware that the fight against the terrorists and insurgents in Fallujah comes at a price. As of today, approximately 30 U.S. servicemembers have been killed and almost 300 have been injured in the Fallujah fighting, according to coalition officials. Information on the number of Iraqi security- force casualties was not available. "We feel very sorry for the losses that have occurred while accomplishing this mission," Zebari said. "Unfortunately, we cannot triumph without making sacrifices."

The strength of coalition troops, Zebari said, is what will allow the Iraqi people to ultimately triumph over anti-Iraqi forces. "The Marines and other U.S. forces are a lot stronger than the enemy," Zebari said. "We are very grateful for their help and for their presence."

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