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Fallujah Residents Angry Over Destruction

A US Marine from Lima Company passes a leveled house on patrol in the devastated city of Fallujah. Photo: AFP/Hrvoje Polan

It’s nice to see that we’re winning the Iraqis over with gestures like, say, destroying almost all of their homes, and an entire city’s infrastructure. And you wonder why the insurgents have a stronghold over much of the country? (AP):

When Ahmed Hussein Nasser returned to Fallujah weeks after a devastating U.S.-led campaign to retake the city from insurgents, he could barely recognize the city where he had spent all 66 years of his life.

His anger against the Americans and Iraqi forces allied with them has only grown since his return — a worrisome sign for U.S. officials letting people back into Fallujah, a one-time insurgent stronghold where the population was generally believed to support the fighters.

When I see Americans in Fallujah I feel as if I am seeing devils in front of me,” he said.

On Dec. 23, the first people allowed into the city were residents of the western neighborhood of Andalus. The Iraqi government announced over the weekend that all the city’s neighborhoods will be open for returnees this Friday. The government said so far some 60,000 people have returned to the city.

About 85,000 residents have gone back to inspect their houses and general conditions in the city, but only about 10 percent of them stayed, said Jennifer Pagonis, spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

Few houses escaped damage from the intense American air raids late last year and the insurgent bombings and shootings that followed. Work teams have cleared rubble from the streets, but it is still tangled with downed power lines. Craters cut off access to side streets, and some buildings have walls or ceilings missing if they weren’t simply destroyed. “Many Iraqi residents have made it clear to me that they realize that foreign fighters brought about the destruction and are ultimately the ones to blame.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding