US halts offensives on major warfronts and withdraws


11 April 2004

DEBKAfile’s Exclusive Sources: US halts offensives on major warfronts and withdraws from Ar Ramadi, Mosul and Sadr City to stem rising casualties. In Mosul, Iraqi security infrastructure breaks down with Iraqi police and security officers surrendering and handing weapons to insurgent militias, including al Qaeda. White flag movement spreads. Abu Ghraib semi-military airport west of Baghdad overrun by Sunni and Shiite militias.

Fighting erupts early Monday in Fallujah shattering partial ceasefire in Sunni Triangle town, where Iraqis claim 600 dead in battles, 1,250 injured. Sunday, fourth battalion reinforced US Marine strength in besieged city. Three Marines killed in overnight fighting in Anbar Province west of Baghdad raise to 62 US combat deaths across Iraq since April 4 launch of Fallujah offensive and radical Shiite uprising - 19 since Friday. Earlier, two US crewmen killed when their Apache helicopter was shot down Sunday over western edge of Baghdad.

Iraqi commander Sanchez discloses Iraq battalion’s refusal to go into Falluja this week to support US Marines. This incident, he said, revealed “significant challenges” within US-trained Iraqi security forces, confirming DEBKAfile’s earlier report on collapse in some places of new Iraqi services.

US-backed negotiators attempting to talk Shiite uprising leader Moqtada Sadr into temporary absence in Iran where he lived before war. Hostilities would die down and Sadr avoid humiliating arrest for murder. US command determined to maintain negotiating momentum in conjunction with military initiatives until Shiite pilgrims disperse from Arbain observances in Karbala in a day or two.

Beijing in intense diplomatic effort to rescue 7 Chinese men taken hostage on their way from Jordanian border to Baghdad. No word on US contractor Thomas Hamill and three Japanese hostages. British civilian and 8 foreigners were released Sunday.