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Resolution in Fallujah 'Will Resonate Throughout Iraq'

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 28, 2004 – The way the stalemate in Fallujah, Iraq, is ultimately resolved either through a negotiated agreement or through military force "will resonate throughout Iraq" and "deal a blow to all the insurgents across the country," the operations chief for U.S. Central Command told Pentagon reporters today.

Marine Maj. Gen. John Sattler said the outcome will dash the hopes of other insurgents who were "hanging on, thinking that they can hold out long enough or they can hold out until they can negotiate on their terms." Actions in Fallujah, he said, will send message, loud and clear, that those hopes are nothing but a "pipe dream," he said via video teleconference from U.S. Central Command's forward headquarters in Qatar.

If the situation erupts into fighting, Sattler said the insurgents will get a quick, firsthand lesson in the capabilities of the U.S. military. "If they take us on in direct confrontation, the end result is always that they take a severe beating," he said.

Sattler said the insurgents in Fallujah a mix of about 1,500 former Baathists and Republic Guard members, foreign fighters, terrorists from outside the country and "criminals and thugs" who gained power under Saddam Hussein through intimidation and coercion appear to have no central leader.

What they share, he said, is a common belief that they have no future in the new Iraq, and that their only hope is to derail the progress under way throughout the country.

The best solution for Fallujah is a peaceful negotiation, Sattler said, stressing that the terms of the agreement must be met. "The arms must be turned in. The weapons must be laid down. Those who are the criminals must be either turned over or surrender themselves to proper authorities," he said.

"The intent is to drive out the extremist elements within the town and then to return order and stability to the town so the Fallujan people can get on with their lives and move toward a fair and representative Iraqi government," he said. "We'll get back the town, reinstate the rule of law and move on."

But if the situation erupts into fighting, Sattler said the coalition will take every step possible to limit civilian casualties and collateral damage. But he pointed out that insurgents in Fallujah continuing to seek safe haven inside mosques, schools and hospitals that the coalition is reluctant to attack would complicate matters.

Precision attacks, if necessary, will involve close coordination between the commander on the ground, forward combat controllers and aircraft crews, and accurate targeting made possible by laser-guided munitions and Joint Direct Attack Munitions. "It's very calculated," Sattler said.

Meanwhile, Sattler said the coalition is maintaining its cordon around Fallujah and conducting patrols in nearby towns to seek out those who have fled Fallujah to rearm, refit or possibly plan anti-coalition activities. "The goal is to keep them disrupted and off balance," he said.

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Maj. Gen. John Sattler

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