Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld launched the failed April 2004 assault on the Iraqi town of Fallujah before marines were ready because it had become “a symbol of resistance that dominated international headlines” and similar considerations eventually destroyed the operation — both according to a highly classified U.S. intelligence report into the defeat.
“During the first week of April, insurgents invited a reporter from Al Jazeera, Ahmed Mansour, and his film crew into Fallujah where they filmed scenes of dead babies from the hospital, presumably killed by Coalition air strikes. Comparisons were made to the Palestinian Intifada. Children were shown bespattered with blood; mothers were shown screaming and mourning day after day.”
Coalition air strikes were conducted during the three week cease-fire, which was a “bit of a misnomer” and the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal contributed to the politically driven final peace settlement. The settlement left Coalition Provisional Authority chief Paul Bremer “furious”.
By the end of April, 600-700 Iraqis and 18 marines had been killed inside the town with 62 marines killed in the broader operational area and 565 wounded in action.
Fallujah’s defenders were diverse but united to oppose the U.S. offensive. They included former regime soldiers, “nationalists, local Islamic extremists, foreign fighters and criminals” together comprising not so much a military organization, but “an evil Rotary club”.
The revelations come from a highly classified report on the attack released today by the open government group Wikileaks, which has in the past month released a number of sensitive U.S. documents including manuals for Guantanamo Bay, Camp Bucca prison and Department of Defense detainee operations.