RealNews

Iraqi Holy City Left Broken by Urban Warfare

Lt. Col. Jim Rainey describes the battle here as “tackle football in the hallway, with no roof on the hallway.” It’s an apt analogy for urban warfare in sometimes extremely close quarters. But after 21 days of merciless battering by U.S. weapons, parts of Najaf have very nearly no hallway at all. Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the most influential Shiite cleric in Iraq, negotiated a cease-fire Thursday, but not before parts of Najaf had been devastated. Pinpoint fire and tight restrictions on munitions ensure that the gold-domed Imam Ali shrine remained all but unscathed. But the core of the city around it, a destination of longing for millions of Shiite Muslims, is so mauled that American commanders debate which famously ruined wartime cityscape Najaf now resembles most. Full Story

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