Battle of Fallujah Underway: Operation Phantom Fury
Thousands of U.S. troops, backed by armor and a stunning air barrage, attacked the toughest strongholds of Sunni insurgents in Fallujah on Monday, launching a long-awaited offensive aimed at putting an end to guerrilla control of the Sunni Muslim city. After nightfall, U.S. troops advanced slowly on the northwestern Jolan neighborhood, a warren of alleyways where Sunni militant fighters have dug in. Artillery, tanks and warplanes pounded the district’s northern edge, softening the defenses and attempting to set off any bombs and boobytraps before troops moved in. At the same time, another force pushed into the northeastern Askari district, the first large-scale assault into the insurgent-held area of the city, the military said.
Some 5,000 U.S. Marines and soldiers were massed on Fallujah’s northern edge participating in the assault. Iraqi troops were also expected to be involved, but there was no immediate word on their actions. Before the thrust into the heart of the city, the U.S. military reported its first casualties of the offensive two Marines killed when their bulldozer flipped over into the Euphrates. A military spokesman estimated that 42 insurgents were killed across Fallujah in bombardments and skirmishes during the day.
So it begins.
Update: Operation Phantom Fury is the moniker of this one.