Friday, December 02, 2005

Insurgent 'attack' US bases in Iraq

Insurgents attacked US bases and government offices in Ramadi, in central Iraq, and then dispersed throughout the city, reports say. Heavily-armed insurgents fired mortars and rockets at the buildings and then occupied several main streets, residents told news agencies.

But the US military played down the scale of the attack, saying it had resulted in no damage or casualties.

US Marines spokesman Captain Jeffrey Pool told the AFP news agency the militants had simply fired a rocket propelled grenade at a joint US-Iraqi observation post at 0930 (0630 GMT).

"As of 1400 (1100 GMT), there were no signs of any significant insurgent activity anywhere in the city."

Captain Pool accused the militants of exaggerating the scale of the attack.

"This is clearly a sign of how desperate insurgents have become," he said.

Residents told the Reuters news agency earlier that hundreds of heavily armed men in masks had for a time patrolled the main streets of the city and set up checkpoints.

Leaflets distributed by the men declared that al-Qaeda in Iraq, the group run by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was now in control of the city.

"Its followers will burn the Americans and will drive them back to their homes by force. Iraq will be a graveyard for the Americans and its allies," one leaflet declared.

Residents said there was no noticeable presence of US or Iraqi forces in the city after the attacks.

Sky news in the UK is reporting "More than 400 militants reportedly launched an assault on the American garrison and fired on nearby council offices before seizing several streets. "


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