Fighting increased in Fallujah (west of Baghdad) and outside Najaf in the south. In both cases, gangs of gunmen, who have been tormenting local Iraqis, but convincing many foreign journalists that they are fighting to Iraqi independent from American oppression, are facing extermination by American troops. Because the gunmen use civilians as human shields, and use mosques and public buildings (especially schools and hospitals) as bases, local Iraqi leaders have urged coalition military commanders to try negotiations. But the Sunni gangs in and around Fallujah, and the radical Shia gunmen in the south, have no intention of surrendering or compromise. The Shia religious leadership is upset about being bullied by the radical al Sadr gunmen, but have been unable to organize an armed force that can deal with the problem. Well, maybe not entirely. There is apparently an Iraqi sniper operating in Najaf, killing al Sadr gunmen one by one. This, not surprisingly, has unnerved the al Sadr gangs, and caused them to act brutally towards Iraqis in attempts to find the mysterious sniper. Meanwhile, American military commanders are developing plans that will enable them to use their considerable combat power to work with whatever force the Shia religious leadership can come up with, to defeat the al Sadr gangs, while using as little American military force as possible. In Fallujah, the marines are moving into position for a final assault on the gangs.