Shortly after Iraq's interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi gave coalition forces authority to rid Fallujah of terrorists, Iraqi and U.S. troops began an assault against insurgents in the city. Fallujah has become a haven for foreign terrorists and insurgents like the al-Qaida-linked Abu Musab Zarqawi and Baathist holdovers from Saddam Hussein's regime.
Mr. Allawi said he was forced "to resort to extreme measures to protect the Iraqi people from these killers and to liberate the residents of Fallujah so they can return to their homes":
"They want us to go ahead and finish the terrorists and have the rule of law prevail in Fallujah, and this is what we intend to do."
Mr. Allawi said it is important to accomplish this goal before the elections in Iraq, now scheduled for early 2005. "We want to secure the country so. . .people can participate in the elections freely, without the intimidation by terrorists and by forces who are trying to wreck the political process in Iraq," he said.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld says that securing Fallujah is an important step in stopping those who are trying to thwart Iraq's movement toward democracy:
"There are clearly very dangerous elements in Iraq who seek to impose rule by the terrorist and by the dictator. They've undertaken every effort to try to extinguish the progress and to intimidate the Iraqi people and the coalition forces. If Iraq is to be a free and peaceful society, one part of the country cannot remain under the control of assassins, terrorists, and the remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime."
"No government can allow terrorists and foreign fighters to use its soil to attack its people," says Mr. Rumsfeld. "Success in Fallujah will deal a blow to the terrorists in the country, and should move Iraq further away from a future of violence to one of freedom and opportunity for the Iraqi people."