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Dates below are for the story - not the events the reports describe.
Monday, 8 November, Opening salvos
By Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Robert F. Worth
FALLUJA, Iraq, Monday, Nov. 8 - Explosions and heavy gunfire thundered across Falluja on Sunday night and Monday morning as American troops seized control of two strategic bridges, a hospital and other objectives in the first stage of a long-expected invasion of the city, the center of the Iraqi insurgency.
Hours earlier, Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, faced with an expanding outbreak of insurgent violence across the country, formally proclaimed a state of emergency for 60 days across most of Iraq. The proclamation gave him broad powers that allow him to impose curfews, order house-to-house searches and detain suspected criminals and insurgents.
The first of several thousand marines in tanks, Humvees and armored personnel carriers began taking up positions on Monday morning along the northern edge of the city to prepare for an attack, and American jets began bombing targets.
By Richard A. Oppel Jr.
FALLUJA, Iraq, Monday, Nov. 8 - The assault against Falluja began here Sunday night as American Special Forces and Iraqi troops burst into Falluja General Hospital and seized it within an hour.
At 10 p.m., Iraqi troops clambered off seven-ton trucks, sprinting with American Special Forces soldiers around the side of the main building of the hospital, considered a refuge for insurgents and a center of propaganda against allied forces, entering the complex to bewildered looks from patients and employees.
Tuesday, 9 November: The "real" battle begins
6,500 American G.I.'s And 2,000 Iraqis On Attack
By Dexter Filkins and James Glanz
FALLUJA, Iraq, Tuesday, Nov. 9 - Thousands of American marines and soldiers swarmed over a railroad embankment on the northern edge of Falluja on Monday night and early Tuesday, setting off a wild firefight and making their first advances across the deadly streets and twisting alleyways of this rebel-held city.
The move, following weeks of bombings by American airplanes, marked the beginning of the main assault on Falluja, expected to be the most significant battle since the fall of Baghdad 19 months ago.
Most of the 6,500 American troops and 2,000 Iraqi soldiers went over the embankment at six separate points, military officials said, aiming to clear out insurgents one house at a time and eventually take several large public buildings in the heart of the city.
The drive into Falluja's downtown came after the interim Iraqi prime minister, Ayad Allawi, gave formal authority to the American-led troops to start the assault. American and Iraqi officials have said elections planned for the end of January would be imperiled if Falluja and other cities in the Sunni Muslim heartland remained in the hands of the rebels.
By Dexter Filkins
FALLUJA, Iraq, Nov. 8 - The two marines were pinned down on a roof on Monday, pressing themselves against a low, crumbling wall as insurgents fired rocket-propelled grenades at them from a building near the middle of town.
Hours before, they had clambered over a railroad embankment - a berm, to the engineering-minded - and started their advance into this rebel-held city.
Commanders called in artillery fire on the building where the grenades were emerging, their tails spitting and glowing like sparklers across the sky. But the artillery only flattened the building next door to the one occupied by the insurgents.
"This is crazy," one of the marines said. "Yeah," his buddy said, "and we've only taken one house."
By Richard A. Oppel Jr.
FALLUJA, Iraq, Nov. 8 - The Americans had tanks and bombs. The insurgents had the shadows.
Hours after American troops captured the peninsula just across the Euphrates from downtown Falluja early Monday morning, outgunned insurgents continuing shooting, and taking constant fire from the Americans' far more powerful weapons.
On the peninsula, the Americans had tanks, Bradleys, .50-caliber machine guns, long-range sniper rifles and a new type of Humvee-mounted Gatling gun that soldiers say can fire up to 2,000 7.62-millimeter rounds per minute. Overhead, Cobra helicopter gunships and jets swooped in to shoot missiles and drop bombs.
The insurgents' weapons were comparatively timid: mortars, Kalashnikov rifles with their firecracker-like pop, and rocket-propelled grenades with a 400-meter effective range.
The Americans were 500 meters to 600 meters away...
Wednesday, 10 November: Has the enemy fled?
By Dexter Filkins and Robert F. Worth
FALLUJA, Iraq, Wednesday, Nov. 10 - After two days of street-to-street fighting, the American-led assault on Falluja had wrested at least a third of the city from insurgents on Tuesday, capturing the mayor's office, two mosques, a commercial center and other major objectives in the heart of the downtown and advancing past the main highway through the city.
The insurgents continued to fight and withdraw to new positions as American and Iraqi military forces - relying heavily on artillery and air support - pushed in from the north. Battles continued in the south Falluja neighborhoods of Resala and Nazal as the insurgents appeared to be retreating along a central corridor toward the southern fringes of the city.
At the Pentagon, Lt. Gen. Thomas F. Metz, the commander of day-to-day military operations in Iraq, said in a video teleconference from Baghdad that commanders anticipated "several more days of tough urban fighting" before the Falluja offensive was over. He said most of the military's objectives had been met "on or ahead of schedule" against a force of 2,000 to 3,000 insurgents.
By Edward Wong and Eric Schmitt
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Wednesday, Nov. 10 - Insurgent leaders in Falluja probably fled before the American-led offensive and may be coordinating attacks in Iraq that have left scores dead over the past few days, according to American military officials here.
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant who is the most wanted man in Iraq, has almost certainly departed, military officials say. Americans say his group is responsible for ambushes, bombings and beheadings that have killed hundreds of people in more than a year.
Before the offensive began, some military officials said Mr. Zarqawi could be operating out of Falluja, but his precise whereabouts have not been known.
"I personally believe some of the senior leaders probably have fled," Lt. Gen. Thomas F. Metz, commander of the multinational forces in Iraq, said in a video conference with reporters on Tuesday.
By Dexter Filkins
FALLUJA, Iraq, Nov. 9 - After nearly 16 hours of fighting, the United States marines thought they had finally won their battle for the green-domed mosque, which insurgents had been using as a command center.
Then a car drove up behind a group of the marines on Al Thurthar Street. Seven men bristling with Kalashnikovs, rocket-propelled grenades and black ammunition belts spilled onto the street, ready to fight at point-blank range. The marines turned and fired, and killed four of them immediately, blowing one man's head entirely away before he fell on his back onto the pavement, his arms spread wide.
Three more fled. Cpl. Jason Huyghe cornered two of them in a courtyard. One of them, he suddenly realized, was wearing a belt packed with explosives.
"I saw the guy roll over and pull something on his jacket," Corporal Huyghe said, "and he exploded."
By Edward Wong
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Nov. 9 - In the first major political backlash over the assault on Falluja, the country's most prominent Sunni political party said Tuesday that it was withdrawing from the interim Iraqi government, while the leading group of Sunni clerics called for Iraqis to boycott the nationwide elections scheduled for early next year.
The moves seemed to promise that popular protest against the American-led attack on the city, which is predominantly Sunni Muslim, is likely to grow in coming days.
Thursday, November 11: Hump day (this is not a 5-day week)
By Robert F. Worth and Edward Wong
FALLUJA, Iraq, Thursday, Nov. 11 - Advances in Falluja slowed considerably on Wednesday after American-led troops took control of about half of the city.
On Tuesday night, insurgents kidnapped three relatives of the Iraqi prime minister, Ayad Allawi, from their home in Baghdad. A militant group calling itself Ansar al-Jihad posted an Internet message saying it was holding the three hostages and would behead them in 48 hours unless Dr. Allawi called off the siege of Falluja and ordered the release of all prisoners.
Some of the military units operating in the invasion came under heavy sniper fire where the advance has slowed or stopped along a major boulevard that bisects Falluja, but military officials asserted that the force was simply regrouping and would soon continue to push ahead.
"They have made good progress through the city, and they're now about halfway through," said Maj. Gen. Richard F. Natonski, commander of the First Marine Division.
By Dexter Filkins
FALLUJA, Iraq, Nov. 10 - American marines called in two airstrikes on the pair of dingy three-story buildings squatting along Highway 10 on Wednesday, dropping 500-pound bombs each time. They fired 35 or so 155-millimeter artillery shells, 10 shots from the muzzles of Abrams tanks and perhaps 30,000 rounds from their automatic rifles. The building was a smoking ruin.
But the sniper kept shooting.
He - or they, because no one can count the flitting shadows in this place - kept 150 marines pinned down for the better part of a day. It was a lesson on the nature of the enemy in this hellish warren of rubble-strewn streets. Not all of the insurgents are holy warriors looking for martyrdom. At least a few are highly trained killers who do their job with cold precision and know how to survive.
"The idea is, he just sits up there and eats a sandwich," said Lt. Andy Eckert, "and we go crazy trying to find him."
Friday, 12 November: After the Night of Power
By Robert F. Worth and James Glanz
FALLUJA, Iraq, Friday, Nov. 12 - Rebels mounted fierce counterattacks Thursday against rapid advances by American troops into the southern part of Falluja, while insurgents elsewhere in Iraq appear to have opened up a second front in the fighting by overrunning police stations and laying siege to the provincial headquarters in Mosul.
The invasion of Falluja, now in its fourth day, is seen by military planners as a way to smash the largest safe haven for the insurgency in Iraq. Since the assault began on Monday, about 600 rebels have been killed, along with 18 American and 5 Iraqi soldiers, military officials said.
American marines and soldiers seem to be carrying out a pincer movement in Falluja, pressing insurgents ever farther south in intense fighting. But the military has been forced to detach an armored battalion from its cordon operation around Falluja to help quell violence in Mosul, about 200 miles to the north, siphoning off about a third of the forces that had been put in place to catch insurgents attempting to flee the fighting here.
[On Friday, United States officers said American-led forces had gained control of most of Falluja and that insurgents were trapped in the southern part of the city, Reuters reported. "They can't go north because that's where we are. They can't go west because of the Euphrates River and they can't go east because we have a huge presence there. So they are cornered in the south," Master Sgt. Roy Meek told Reuters.]
By Dexter Filkins
FALLUJA, Iraq, Nov. 11 - The stars began to glimmer through a wan yellow-gray sunset over Falluja on Thursday evening. The floury dust in the air and a skyline of broken minarets and smashed buildings combined for the only genuine postcard image this country has to offer for now.
Sitting on a third-story roof, Staff Sgt. Eric Brown, his lip bleeding, peered through the scope of his rifle into the haze. Moments before, a lone bullet had whizzed past his face and smashed a window behind him. "God, I hate this place, the way the sun sets," Sergeant Brown said.
Sgt. Sam Williams said, "I wish I could see down the street."
But these marines did see a black flag pop up all at once above a water tower about 100 yards away, then a second flag somewhere in the gloaming above a rooftop. And the shots began, in a wave this time, as men bobbed and weaved through alleyways and sprinted across the street. "He's in the road, he's in the road, shoot him!" Sergeant Brown shouted. "Black shirt!" someone else yelled. "Due south!"
Saturday 13 November: The Push
By Dexter Filkins and Robert F. Worth
FALLUJA, Iraq, Nov. 12 - American forces moved into position on Friday for a decisive battle with bands of insurgents, pounding some of their remaining strongholds with airstrikes and repelling attempts by some fighters to shoot their way out through the desert countryside south of the city.
But other fighters, among the most resilient the Americans have encountered in five days of battle, seemed resigned to making a last stand in Falluja's southern residential neighborhoods.
"Right now they've got no place to go," said Col. Craig Tucker, commander of a regimental combat team encompassing several battalions of American troops. "I think they've come here to die."
By Dexter Filkins
FALLUJA, Iraq, Nov. 12 - The farther south the marines push through this rebellious city, the more often they notice that the men shooting at them are wearing tan uniforms with a smart-looking camouflage pattern that is the color of chocolate chips.
Those are the uniforms of the Iraqi National Guard.
On Friday, after several hours of nonstop gun battles around a mosque in southern Falluja had killed about 100 insurgents, the marines said that those tan uniforms had cost one of their own his life the day before. It happened in what they first called an ambush, but now believe was a case of mistaken identity, combined with quick reflexes by insurgents who are using their wits to deadly effect as they approach their last stand.
By Abdul Razzaq Al-saeidy
NAIYIMA, Iraq, Nov. 12 - Two men stood by the open trunk of a red Opel sedan on Friday, unloading rockets in a parched dirt field several miles south of Falluja. One man gingerly cradled a pair of three-foot black cylinders in his arms.
Nearby, two metal tubes poked from a pile of sandbags. They were aimed at a palm grove where the marines had set up their headquarters, named Camp Falluja, or as the Iraqis call it, Al Masraa, or the Farm. Moments earlier, the whistle of rockets had been heard.
"They must have fired from these tubes, and they're bringing more rockets now," Said, a Falluja resident who was guiding an Iraqi reporter, said. "We've got to get out of here. The Americans might open fire on us."
Sunday, 14 November: End game on the eve of Eid
Dexter Filkins and Robert F. Worth
FALLUJA, Iraq, Nov. 13 - Army tanks and fighting vehicles blasted their way into the last main rebel stronghold in Falluja at sundown on Saturday after American warplanes and artillery prepared the way with a savage barrage on the district.
Earlier in the afternoon, 10 separate plumes of smoke rose from southern Falluja, as if etched against the desert sky, and probably exclaiming catastrophe for the insurgents.
"It's a broad attack against the entire southern front," said Col. Michael D. Formica, the Army commander in charge of the cordon effort around the city. "We're just pushing them against an anvil."
The assault progressed enough for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to conclude that "coalition and Iraqi forces have completed the move, for all practical purposes, from the north of town to the south" of Falluja.
"Needless to say, there still will be pockets of resistance and areas that will be difficult, so I don't mean to suggest that it's complete ," he said during a visit to Panama. "Clearly there's a large number of terrorists that have been killed or captured, and that is a good thing for the people of Iraq."
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