In the two towns where Iraqi anti-government forces are organized and terrorizing the local population, American troops advanced in the last 24 hours and encountered resist. In Najaf, some 46 radical Shia fighters died when they attacked US army troops. In Fallujah, marines attacked a mosque that anti-government gunmen were firing from, killing over a dozen. The Iraqis are well aware that American troops are reluctant to attack mosques, so they often use mosques to hide out in, store weapons or even fire their weapons from. American troops will fire back when fired on from a mosque, but American commanders have been warned that the Moslem media will make a big deal of any destroyed mosques. However, the Moslem media is so hostile already that it seems unlikely that these attitudes could get any worse.
The United Nations has noted this violence and has insisted that the United States pacify the two hostile groups, but not kill any innocent Iraqis in the process. The problem is that there is no Iraqi force (police, security troops, tribal leaders and militia) who can deal with the Sunni and Shia gunmen. Worse, the Sunni groups belong to several different factions, with the addition of Islamic radical groups. The Shia gunmen all say they follow radical religious leader Muqtada al Sadr. Actually, al Sadr's followers are not well organized.