Already ten soldiers have lost their lives during the fighting in Fallujah. But, according to the L.A. Times, "U.S. military leaders said that overall, resistance was lighter than expected and the advance was proceeding more quickly than anticipated."And that may be the bad news. As I mentioned yesterday, a relatively easy fight -- and this is all relative here -- would probably mean that the hardest of the hard-core insurgents are skipped out of town before the G.I.s came barreling in.An American general admitted as much yesterday, the New York Times reports.
Insurgent leaders in Falluja probably fled before the American-led offensive and may be coordinating attacks in Iraq that have left scores dead over the past few days, according to American military officials here... "I personally believe some of the senior leaders probably have fled," Lt. Gen. Thomas F. Metz, commander of the multinational forces in Iraq, said in a video conference with reporters on Tuesday. "I would hope not, but I've got to assume that those kinds of leaders understand the combat power we can bring."Insurgent attacks continued to exact a heavy toll across Iraq on Tuesday. Two American soldiers died in a mortar attack in Mosul, where government authority appears to be ebbing. Gunmen assassinated a senior government official in Samarra. Guerrillas fired mortars at police stations in downtown Baghdad while hundreds of fighters massed in the center of the provincial capital of Ramadi, just 30 miles west of Falluja.A suspected car bombing outside an Iraqi National Guard base in Kirkuk killed three people and wounded two others, Reuters reported. The attacks on Tuesday followed several others over the weekend, both in Baghdad and the Sunni triangle.The American military said on Tuesday that six people had been killed in the car bomb attack Monday night outside Yarmouk Hospital in Baghdad. Five were Iraqi policemen, and the sixth was a civilian, the military said. In the two church bombings the same night, one Iraqi was killed and several wounded, and one of the bombers was disguised as an Iraqi policeman, according to a report put out by a Western security contractor.This spate of what appear to be coordinated attacks, as well as the dispersal of top insurgent leaders, suggests that the Falluja offensive alone will not crush an insurgency that has been gathering strength. And it raises the prospect that insurgents will try to regroup and infiltrate Falluja after the fighting is over, as they have done in Samarra.