Developments in Iraq on Wednesday

Thursday, September 9, 2004

U.S. jets pounded insurgent positions in Fallujah for a second straight day Wednesday, raising plumes of smoke but leaving no extensive damage or signs of weakening the Sunni militants who have steadily expanded their control of this city about 30 miles west of Baghdad. After the attacks, bands of fighters, many wearing loose black pajama-like pants and T-shirts, lounged outside abandoned buildings facing the American lines, seeking to escape the intense sunlight of a day when temperatures topped 114 degrees.

The Fallujah Brigade, which the Americans organized in May to maintain security after the Marines lifted a three-week siege, has all but disappeared, along with virtually all signs of Iraqi state authority. Members of the Iraqi national guard, which was supposed to back up the Fallujah Brigade, fled the city after one of their commanders was executed by insurgents for allegedly spying for the Americans. Local police operate under the tacit control of the militants.

In eastern Baghdad, insurgents detonated a roadside bomb that killed one U.S. soldier and wounded two others, pushing the number of American military deaths in Iraq to 1,005. President Bush said "we mourn every loss of life" and declared that the United States was making good progress in the war against terrorism.

Gunmen kidnapped the deputy governor of Anbar province, which includes Fallujah, in the latest assault on officials connected to Iraq's interim government, the Interior Ministry said.

A U.S. military helicopter crashed west of Baghdad, but all four personnel aboard survived. A terse statement from the U.S. Marine base at Camp Fallujah gave no precise location, no time of the crash and did not say what type of helicopter was involved or whether it was downed by hostile fire.

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