Militants, swept from battleground, return when troops leave, U.S. says
By Tom Lasseter
AR-RAMADI, Iraq — Iraq’s insurgency has concentrated much of its fight against U.S. and Iraqi forces in towns along the murky waters of the Euphrates River, beginning with Al-Qaim on the Syrian border and running through towns such as Al-Hadithah, Al-Haqlaniyah, Hit, Ar-Ramadi and Al-Fallujah. They’re all in Al-Anbar province, the heartland of Iraq’s Sunni Muslim minority, which dominated the government under Saddam Hussein.
In the cities where U.S. forces have set up bases — such as Ar-Ramadi and Al-Fallujah — the fighting has destroyed much of the infrastructure but failed to completely secure the areas. In smaller towns, American forces launch repeated raids to clear the streets of insurgents, only to see them return as soon as the Marines and soldiers are gone.
Three weeks of reporting alongside American troops in Al-Anbar’s main centers of guerrilla resistance found that U.S. forces are failing to make headway, and some commanders fear that much of the military effort is wasted.