In Ramadi today 6 civilians were killed in clashes between the resistance and military.
The military sealed the city, closing all the roads while announcing over loudspeakers for residents in the city to hand over â€œterrorists.â€
A man, woman and child died when the public bus they were riding in approached a US checkpoint there when they were riddled with bullets from anxious soldiers. A military spokesman said the bus was shot because it didnâ€™t stop when they asked it to.
The city remains sealed by US forces as fierce clashes sporadically erupt across the area while the military decides how to handle yet another resistance controlled.
As the mass graves in Fallujah continue to be filled with countless corpses, sporadic fighting flashes throughout areas of the destroyed battleground.
â€œThe Americans want every city in Iraq to be like Fallujah,â€ said Abdulla Rahnan, a 40 year-old man on the street where I was taking tea not far from my hotel, â€œThey want to kill us all-they are freeing us of our lives!â€
His friend, remaining nameless, added, â€œEveryone here hates them because they are making mass graves faster than even Saddam!â€
I never tell people I interview I am from America. I tell them I am Canadian of Lebanese descent-which is close enough since I am from Alaska. With this information, I am always greeted warmly, invited to meals and to spend the night wherever I go. Arab culture continues to impress me as the most beautiful, warm, civilized culture of any Iâ€™ve experienced in all of my travels.
But as Abu Talat told me the other day when I asked him what he though about going to Ramadi or Fallujah, â€œSure Dahr, we can go-but not until you get a steel neck!â€
He laughs his deep laugh, and I fake a laugh with him while peering out my car window.
After conducting other interviews during the day, Salam and I are in my room working on a radio dispatch. As we begin recording, his cell phone and my room phone ring simultaneously.
He gets news of another friend who has been shot by soldiers, while I am told by Abu Talat that al-Adhamiya is under a 6pm curfew as the military begins house to house searches. His frustrated voice tells me his wife and boys are afraid as he speaks above helicopters thumping the air over his home.
Over in Sadr City, the military are now sealing off neighborhoods doing home searches as well-this after having agreed to a deal with Sadrâ€™s Mehdi Army the fighters turned in many of their weapons and agreed to a truce. Last night a small boy was shot there because he was out after curfew.
Lieutenant-General Lance Smith, deputy US commander of the region of the Middle East that includes Iraq, announced that his command might be asking for 3-5,000 more troops for Iraq.
This goal will most likely be attained by delaying the already scheduled departure of soldiers already here, and was announced at about the same time that the commander for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in Fallujah, Lieutenant-General John Sattler said that he believed the assault on Fallujah had â€œbroken the back of the insurgency.â€
Refugees from Fallujah have yet to be allowed to return to their city.
One of my friends here works on the election commission for Iraq-he stopped by tonight laughing at the new date which has been set for the election of January 30th. â€œThey have this new date for their rigged elections,â€ he rolls his eyes, â€œAnd nobody in Iraq believes their propaganda. Elections? Here? I donâ€™t know anyone who will vote. Perhaps the entire country can vote absentee for reason of car bomb!â€
He and I were interviewed on a radio program this evening-while I was listening to commercials waiting to come back on, I laugh to myself as one of the advertisements is for folks to trade in their old Hummer for a new one with low financing!
This against the backdrop of the show, where my friend and I had shared stories with the host and callers of death in the streets, Iraqi outrage over the failed occupation and other love stories from Iraq.
Meanwhile, more oil facilities are sabotaged in the north, the â€œGreen Zoneâ€ takes more mortars, and the usual gunfire is audible over the generators running out my window.