Iraq: November 15, 2004

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American and Iraqi troops entered Mosul to battle some 500 gang members who attacked and destroyed six police stations, and ran wild in Sunni parts of the city. Only armed Kurds resisted the Sunni Arab gunmen. The gangs also killed the head of the organized crime effort in Mosul. Seeing what is happening in Fallujah, where gang headquarters have been captured and cleaned out of weapons and other gear, the Mosul groups apparently see themselves threatened and forced to fight. The gangs are better armed, paid and led than the police, and have fewer restrictions on who they can kill, torture or kidnap. This is particularly true in the Sunni Arab areas of central and western Iraq. In the Kurdish areas to the north, and the Shia Arab region in the south, where most of the population lives, the police have established and maintained control. The battles in Fallujah, Mosul, Ramadi, Samarra and other Sunni cities is mainly about breaking the power of the gangs. While some of the gangs are political, most are business enterprises, and the government offensive over the last week has been bad for business. 

In Fallujah, some 1,200 gunmen have been killed and another 400 captured. About 50 American and Iraqi troops have died. Several hundred gunmen are trapped inside the city, and refuse to surrender, so far. American troops continue to hunt these holdouts, but expect that to be done with in a few days.

 

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