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  Sunday, September 22, 2019
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The U.S. strategy in Iraq is a three-step process
While at least 38 Marine and Army troops have died in a tough week of house-to-house fighting in Fallujah, that is not the hardest part of the U.S. counteroffensive against the Iraqi insurgency. The U.S. strategy in Iraq, Marine Col. T.X. Hammes observed in a recent interview, is a three-step process. "Clear out the insurgents, build up the Iraqi security forces, and then develop and install local governments in preparation for national elections," said Hammes, who served in the U.S. occupation authority in Iraq last winter. The second and third steps promise to be more difficult to take than the first, in part because they are largely beyond U.S. control. Yet those steps of "Iraqifying" security and politics are also the keys to the Bush administration's strategy for getting out of Iraq. And over the course of the 18 month-long insurgency, U.S. officials frequently have overestimated their progress, both in creating durable Iraqi police and military units and in laying the groundwork for Iraqi political control of the country. On top of that, even the initial step of clearing out the insurgents is hardly concluded. While major fighting appears to be ending in the western Iraqi city of Fallujah, U.S. officers say they expect combat to roil central Iraq in the coming days as they try to exploit their gains. They think they have the insurgents on the run, but other experts warn that the anti-U.S. forces also may be growing stronger in that part of the country, informs Washington Post. According to CBC News, a suicide bomber drove his car into an American convoy killing at least 10 Iraqis in the northern city of Beiji, 250 km north of Baghdad. The car exploded when it hit the convoy. Nine other people were also wounded in addition to three U.S. soldiers. Beiji is the site of Iraq's largest oil refinery and a major power station. Meanwhile, U.S. marines continue to battle insurgents in the southern city of Fallujah. Explosions and machine-gun fire could be heard in south-central parts of the city. U.S. warplanes struck enemy positions in the southwestern part of the city. U.S. commanders say militants are sneaking back into the city by swimming across the Euphrates River. U.S. forces also fought for several hours in Ramadi, west of Fallujah.
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