U.S. Troops to Leave Fallujah; 10 Soldiers Killed Elsewhere
Despite the agreement, air strikes on suspected insurgent strongholds in the city continued Thursday. The targeted areas included the Jolan district, where guerrillas are said to be concentrated and the scene of earlier heavy fighting, Reuters reported.
In other parts of the country, ten U.S. soldiers were killed in separate incidents Thursday, including eight in a car bombing south of Baghdad. Four others were wounded in the attack.
The soldiers were scouting for roadside bombs when they were attacked.
“A driver in a station wagon approached the task force. Once he was close enough to inflict injury he detonated the explosive device,” the military said in a statement.
Two soldiers were killed separately in an ambush on a convoy in Baghdad and a roadside bombing in Baqubah, north of the capital.
The agreement to end the standoff in the Sunni-dominated city of Fallujah was negotiated between U.S. forces and local representatives, including four Iraqi generals, according to the Associated Press.
Under the deal, a new security force, known as the Fallujah Protective Army, will enter the city Friday. The FPA will be made up of about 1,000 Iraqi soldiers led by a former general from Saddam Hussein’s army, said Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne, commander of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment in Fallujah.
Marines are planning to withdraw from their positions in and around Fallujah while the FPA moves in and assumes the tasks of subduing insurgents and stabilizing the city, he said.
The breakthrough in talks came as fighting intensified in the city this week, leading to calls from some in the international community to end the violence.
“Violent military action by an occupying power against inhabitants of an occupied country will only make matters worse,” U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned Wednesday. “It’s definitely time, time now for those who prefer restraint and dialogue to make their voices heard.”
U.S. Marines encircled the central city of about 200,000 on April 5 following the killing and mutilation of four U.S. contractors on March 31. Air and ground attacks have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of militants. The military has not released a tally of U.S. deaths from the siege, but at least eight Marines have died in the fighting.
A cease-fire in the city signed April 19 called for Iraqis to surrender heavy arms such as mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, but Marines have only received a small assortment of rusty and inoperable weapons, The Washington Post reported.