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Iraqi Rebels Attempting to Regroup After Fallujah Rout


As U.S. forces in Iraq comb through what they describe as a treasure trove of intelligence left behind by insurgents in Fallujah, military commanders say they are finding more evidence that Sunni rebels had stockpiled enough material to take their battle to other parts of the country.

With Fallujah no longer a rebel sanctuary, military officials say Sunni insurgents are now trying to re-establish bases in Mosul, to the north. Iraq's third largest city has been the scene of on-going battles as well as a major rebel uprising last month, with rebels taking aim at Iraqi security forces.

The attacks there on Iraqi policemen and coalition forces are an indication that insurgents driven out of Fallujah are regrouping.

"That's how they adapt to losing their base," said Brigadier General David Rodriguez. "So there's several operations going on right now to prevent that from happening."

Mr. Rodriguez of the Pentagon's Joint Chiefs of Staff spoke as troops from the Army's 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina prepared to leave for duty in Iraq. They're part of a military build up ordered by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that will see some 150,000 American forces in the country to bolster security ahead of elections at the end of January.

But whether raising troop levels to their highest point since last year's U.S.-led invasion will be enough to contain the insurgency is far from certain. Military commanders fully expect more battles ahead, just based on the amount of weapons and ammunition stashes they found in Fallujah homes and mosques.

"Basically, the description was, there was one of these every three city blocks," he added.

At this point, military officials say their goal is to keep insurgents on the run, as the January 30 date for elections draws closer.

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