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Fallujah Four Months Later

  • Robert Raffaele

Last November, U.S. Marines forcibly entered the Sunni-majority Iraqi city of Fallujah - a hotbed of insurgent attacks aimed at the U.S.-led coalition. After weeks of fighting, the American forces reclaimed the city. Fifty-one American troops, eight Iraqi soldiers and as many as 1,200 insurgents were killed. Now, four months later, Fallujah residents, with the help of U.S. troops, are trying to start over.

In many places across Fallujah, the devastation is still evident. But U.S. Marines say even in areas where they faced the strongest resistance, they have seen a noticeable change.

Colonel Mike Shupp says, "We weren't sure what would happen. Would we be welcomed or would people be against us? And then, all of a sudden, we realized that the people wanted us there. That they wanted security, that they wanted another chance."

A man said - "Since the day we came back, we have not seen any terrorists here."

The U.S. military says the insurgents have disappeared, and security has dramatically improved.

Many people are back on the streets. Fifty of the city's 85 schools have reopened.

One year ago, four American contractors were killed in Fallujah. Some of the charred bodies were hung from a bridge. Today, the bridge is once again a busy crossing point in and out of the city.

Although no major reconstruction has begun, 80,000 to 90,000 people have now returned to the city. But at least 150,000 others have not returned.

A man said, "Why should others come back when there are no services."

Only 40 percent of the city's homes and shops have power and running water. Many residents have not received compensation from the military for bomb damage.

Lieutenant General John Sattler says, "We promised them in December, 'When you come back in we would do an assessment' - "we" being the Iraqi government - 'of your home and the damages we would compensate you to get your life back up on track and online'."

The first payments - most around 1,500 U.S. dollars - came just 10 days ago. So far, only about 50 families have been compensated.

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