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Marines Safely Venture Into Fallouja, Talk With Leaders

In a test of what U.S. Marines see as their new partnership with Iraqi security forces, a joint convoy Monday safely escorted an American general into this troubled city’s downtown for a 25-minute meeting with the mayor and a group of sheiks, government officials and businessmen. It was the Marines’ first trip into the city center since March 18, when a meeting with Iraqi officials was interrupted by an insurgent attack that left 17 Americans hurt.Although young men dressed in black clothes and waving AK-47s were spotted in the blocks near the mayor’s residence where Monday’s meeting took place, there were no shots fired and no clashes. The Marines interpreted that as a sign that Iraqi forces are capable of keeping the guerrillas in check. “Sometimes history is written in hot, little dusty places on the Earth,” Maj. Gen. James N. Mattis, commander of the 1st Marine Division, told his troops when the mission to escort him into the city was done. “That’s what we did today, and it’s good history.”Full Story

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