Battle Reveals New Iraqi Tactics

Sgt. 1st Class Robert Hollis knew there was trouble even before the shooting started. As he stood guard in his M1-A1 Abrams tank outside a bank in this Sunni Muslim town, the usually busy streets suddenly emptied Sunday. Men hurried down back alleys, some running. Women dragged their children away from the positions of U.S. troops.

Then, through his scope, Hollis said he saw a man lift a rocket-propelled grenade launcher to his shoulder, aiming at him and his crew of three. What followed was perhaps the bloodiest engagement since the U.S. occupation of Iraq began in April. A day later, questions persisted over essential facts of the fighting, which ebbed and flowed through much of Sunday and ended with a devastating defeat of the Iraqi guerrillas who had massed in numbers against the overwhelming power of U.S. forces. The U.S. military said Monday that as many as 54 fighters were killed. No American soldiers died. The city’s hospital reported only eight dead, all of them civilians, although officials there acknowledged that the bodies of fighters might not have been brought there. Full Story

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