With our troops as the training wheels
Iraqi officials used the apparent victory as an opportunity to warn
resistance fighters who control or frequently destabilize other cities
in central and northern Iraq and harass U.S. and Iraqi patrols on the
roads between them.
"This is the first step in operations to take back lawless areas,"
Interior Minister Falah Naqib, a native of Samarra, told reporters at
city hall, which was recaptured by U.S. and Iraqi troops, news services
reported. "The Iraqi government is moving from a defense position to an
offensive position to regain control over all of Iraq...
The 1st Infantry Division, which lost one soldier in two days of battle,
was followed into the city by 2,000 Iraqi forces, most of them freshly
trained guardsmen, commandos and police. U.S. and Iraqi officials said
real success would come only if the Iraqis managed to hold the peace
when the armored U.S. forces withdraw. Samarra fell into insurgent hands
this summer when its police force collapsed.
Batiste, who spoke to a CNN crew accompanying his division, praised the
Iraqi forces. Specially trained Iraqi units captured two religious sites
in the city without suffering any casualties.
"The Iraqi security forces really handled themselves well," Batiste said.
"They're getting better and better trained, better and better equipped.
It ought to give us a lot of confidence."
Iraqi officials have said that, in order to allow orderly elections to
take place across Iraq in January, the offensive for Samarra would be
repeated in at least three other urban battlegrounds held by insurgents.
It's wonderful to watch young democracies take their first baby
steps. Here's hoping Kerry doesn't get his chance at infanticide.
I want to watch this one grow up.
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