RealNews

Black Flags Are Deadly Signals as Cornered Rebels Fight Back

The stars began to glimmer through a wan yellow-gray sunset over Falluja on Thursday evening. The floury dust in the air and a skyline of broken minarets and smashed buildings combined for the only genuine postcard image this country has to offer for now. Sitting on a third-story roof, Staff Sgt. Eric Brown, his lip bleeding, peered through the scope of his rifle into the haze. Moments before, a lone bullet had whizzed past his face and smashed a window behind him. “God, I hate this place, the way the sun sets,” Sergeant Brown said. Sgt. Sam Williams said, “I wish I could see down the street.” But these marines did see a black flag pop up all at once above a water tower about 100 yards away, then a second flag somewhere in the gloaming above a rooftop. And the shots began, in a wave this time, as men bobbed and weaved through alleyways and sprinted across the street. “He’s in the road, he’s in the road, shoot him!” Sergeant Brown shouted. “Black shirt!” someone else yelled. “Due south!” The flags are the insurgents’ answer to two-way radios, their way of massing the troops and – in a tactic that goes back at least as far as Napoleon – concentrating fire on an enemy. Set against radio waves, the flags have one distinct advantage: they are terrifying. Full Story

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