NEAR FALLUJAH, Iraq (AP) — U.S. troops powered their way
into the center of the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah yesterday,
overwhelming small bands of guerrillas with massive force,
searching homes along the city’s deserted, narrow passageways
and using loudspeakers to try to goad militants onto the
streets.

As of last night, the fighting had killed 10 U.S. troops and two
members of the Iraqi security force, the U.S. military announced.
The toll already equaled the 10 American military deaths when
Marines besieged the city for three weeks in April.

As the offensive moved into a second full day, up to eight
attack aircraft — including jets and helicopter gunships
— blasted guerrilla strongholds and raked the streets with
rocket, cannon and machine-gun fire ahead of U.S. and Iraqi
infantry who were advancing only one or two blocks behind the
curtain of fire.

Small groups of guerrillas, armed with rifles, rocket-propelled
grenades, mortars and machine guns, engaged U.S. troops, then fell
back. U.S. troops inspected houses along Fallujah’s streets
and ran across adjoining alleyways, mindful of snipers.

A psychological operations unit broadcast announcements in
Arabic meant to draw out gunmen. An Iraqi translator from the group
said through a loudspeaker: “Brave terrorists, I am waiting
here for the brave terrorists. Come and kill us. Plant small bombs
on roadsides. Attention, attention, terrorists of
Fallujah.”

Faced with overwhelming force, resistance in Fallujah did not
appear as fierce as expected, though the top U.S. commander in Iraq
said he still expected “several more days of tough urban
fighting” as insurgents fell back toward the southern end of
the city, perhaps for a last stand.

Some U.S. military officers estimated they controlled about a
third of the city. Commanders said they had not fully secured the
northern half of Fallujah but were well on their way as American
and Iraqi troops searched for insurgents.

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