Insurgents seize 5 towns near Syria
By: Anna Badkhen, Chronicle Staff Writer on: 27.09.2005 [11:42 ] (1695 reads)
Camp al Qaim, Iraq — A senior U.S. Marine commander said Monday that insurgents loyal to militant leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had taken over at least five key western Iraqi towns on the border with Syria and were forcing local residents to flee.
In an interview with The Chronicle, Lt. Col. Julian Alford, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines Regiment stationed outside the western Iraqi town of al Qaim, said insurgents in the area had been distributing flyers they called "death letters," in which they ordered residents of this western corner of volatile Anbar province to leave — or face death.
"Basically, the insurgents say if they don't leave they will ... behead them," said Alford, who took command this month of about 1,000 Marines stationed in the dusty desert area populated by roughly 100,000 Sunni Arabs.
"It appears that al Qaeda in Iraq is kicking out local people from a lot of these towns out there," he said. Alford said he did not know why the insurgents were forcing townspeople to leave, but he estimated that as many as 100 families per day were passing through a Marine checkpoint just east of the troubled area, their cars packed with their belongings as they flee east alongside the Euphrates River on the ancient Silk Road.
Two weeks ago, Marine spokesmen denied initial reports that insurgents had taken control of the area and were enforcing strict Islamic law, whipping men accused of drinking alcohol, burning a beauty parlor and shops that sold CDs and executing government workers for collaboration with the Iraqi government.
But Alford told The Chronicle that fighters linked to al-Zarqawi had been in complete control of these ancient smuggling communities for at least the past month, and that neither U.S. nor Iraqi forces held any sway over the swath of land that abuts Iraq's desolate, porous 450-mile border with Syria. Washington has repeatedly accused Syria of providing a safe transit route for foreign fighters headed for Iraq.
He estimated that between 300 and 400 insurgents were operating in the area. Most of them, he said, are foreign fighters who have crossed into Iraq through the border with Syria.
"For the time being, they run these towns," Alford said.
He said he could not confirm reports that insurgents had been executing suspected American sympathizers.
"We have seen a number of extra graves when we fly over in a helicopter, usually after we have killed" insurgents, he said.
Marine units stationed outside al Qaim and four neighboring towns perched along the Euphrates River — Dulaym al Husayba, Karabila, Sada to the west of al Qaim, and Al Ubaydi to the northeast — do not venture into these towns, Alford said. Insurgents open fire at any Marine patrol that approaches the town lines. No Iraqi soldiers or police officers operate inside the towns.
Marine units patrolling close to town limits "have seen a lot of guys in black pajamas and black ski masks and with weapons, and we've killed a number of them," Alford said.
Insurgent forces have in the past controlled major towns in Iraq, especially in the so-called Sunni triangle north and west of Baghdad, including Fallujah, Ramadi and, most recently, Haditha.
Alford believes that intensive attacks by U.S. forces on their strongholds in Ramadi and Fallujah, two Euphrates River cities, respectively, 120 and 140 miles downstream from al Qaim, has pushed fighters west toward the border with Syria. In the border area surrounding al Qaim, he said, "they found their last foothold."
Alford said he was expecting to launch a joint offensive against the insurgents holed up in al Qaim and the surrounding towns after the arrival of about 3,000 Iraqi soldiers in the area. He did not say when the Iraqi troops were scheduled to arrive, saying only that it would be "soon."
"They're dangerous, and they're extremely adaptive, but they can't beat us and the Iraqi army," he said.
Alford said he wanted to make the area safe enough to set up polling stations ahead of the Oct. 15 referendum on the new Iraqi constitution.
Also, he said, insurgents have posted signs across the area warning residents not to participate in the referendum. Having areas where insurgents intimidate thousands of people against voting in the referendum significantly undermines the desperate attempts by the United States to engage Iraq's disenfranchised Sunni Arabs in the nation's political process.
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Al Qaeda supermen
by good4what_ails_u on 27.09.2005 [12:40 ]
500 of them control 5 towns while 5,000 invaders can't control one town.
Time to keep your heads down
by insider on 27.09.2005 [12:45 ]
When the U.K/U.S.A. military start putting stories like this out it's because they need a pretence for the air attacks they are about to launch on innocent villagers. Of course there are families leaving the area, not because of Zarquawi but because the U.S. want control of all the towns and villages and will obliterate the local population just so they can say they took out an insurgent village. Any so called death letters flying about would almost certainly have been dropped from U.S. aircraft as any local resistance would prefer to have the locals with them and would not antagonise them.
This is the Mossad Operation Road to Syria
by cosmo on 27.09.2005 [14:31 ]
All these operations are psy ops made by the mossad in preparation for the coming attacks on Syria.
The line had been clear for some time if one watchs the trail of attacks going north right to the borders of Syria.
UNDER THE PRETENCE THAT THIS IS DONE BY THE HOAX GHOST ZARKAWI AND CO AND OTHER HOLLYWOOD PRODUVCED INSURGENT STORIES.!!!
I agree, Cosmo...
by kamau on 27.09.2005 [14:41 ]
...This is a MOSSAD/CIA/MI6 Black Ops. First, the dead Zarqawi, who is supposed to be Sunni, claims he hates and threatens Shi'ites, trying to stir trouble amongst Iraqi Shi'ite's and Sunni's. Now he's threatening his own Sunni groups. This leads me to believe that this dead guy is actually a made up person. Why? Because:
1) noone with an affinity to Islam will kill other Muslims with no regards to his or their religious beliefs. Therefore, this group has to be people who care NOTHING about ISLAM or MUSLIMS, i.e. US, UK, Israel.
2) If Zarqawi is supposed to be Sunni, why is he threatening to behead Sunnis, who he claims to be fighting for? It doesn't make sense, unless as I said above, it's an outside group with no love for ANY of them!
REMEMBER WHO GOT CAUGHT WITH EXPLOSIVES THE OTHER DAY!!!! BEWARE OF STRANGERS BEARING GIFTS!!!!!
off-topic but sweet
by _merk_ on 28.09.2005 [01:00 ]
Gawd, it's dead in here...
From the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:
"red flag flies for Mr. Cheney and for the country. Our second-in-command clearly is in fragile physical condition — with severe, widespread blood vessel disease. Those knee aneurysms mean a high risk of aneurysms elsewhere in the body. They reaffirm his medical history of dangerous blood vessel blockages that could portend a disabling heart attack or stroke."
Nothing else in the news today on his condition. He'll probably be embalmed before anyone finds out. That's not if but when. For all of us of course, ... but in his case, the whenner the better.
what a load of bush shit
by eddie_uk on 28.09.2005 [03:42 ]
probably gonna nuke the place or atleast rain down on it cluster,napalm,and all other highly questionable wmd's.....
i suppose this is gonna be another location for another usa so called "forward operating base". which the neocons will want to make permanent, remote controlled usa gi joes, in zionist hands who dream of a greater israel
a united iraq poses a much larger problem that a already in fighting divided iraq,
It is PSY OPS
by ohm on 28.09.2005 [07:57 ]
The actual story is that those same 5 towns still are HOSTILE towards the occupation and their Clabs. with elements of Resistance still in control No Zarqawi , No mass of Jihadists as they like to suggest. Just the townsfolk and tribal people that have always madeup that landscape. In other words that region still un cooperative with occupation demands and authoratative assertions. despite all their operations. Testament to their ongoing failures.
by awake on 28.09.2005 [07:58 ]
An Al Zarqawi sighting is the same as an Elvis sighting.
by Ikrimah on 28.09.2005 [08:56 ]
These are special operation guys, as you say MOSSAD, CIA, or Blackwater guys disguise as Arab/Muslims. Muslims don't kill Muslims. Sunnis don't kill Shiites. They are paving ways for US to invade Syria. Spread the word. Hope Muslims in Iraq know and understand this situation. But, I believe there must be real Mujahideen fighting to uphold Quran and Sunnah.
read that ...
by hellsbells on 28.09.2005 [10:38 ]
... the entire US 101st Airborne Division has been airlifted to Iraq for one year's tour of duty. This sounds like BIG trouble for someone. My guess is that these border towns with Syria are in for some serious liberation.
Please, please, please, share very widely, quickly. Sam