IRAQ: ANGER BUILDS IN BESIEGED FALLUJAH
The city that was mostly destroyed by the US military operation Phantom Fury in November 2004 has been under curfew for more than two weeks, with no signs of relief.
Located 70 kilometers west of Baghdad, the city made headlines when four Blackwater security mercenaries were killed and their bodies horrifically mutilated on March 31, 2004.
That April the city was attacked by the US military, but resistance fighters repelled occupation forces. That set the stage for the November siege that left about 70% of the city destroyed and turned a quarter of a million residents into refugees.
A recent spike in attacks against Iraqi and US forces in and around the city has prompted harsh measures by the US military, including imposing curfews, limiting movement in and out of Fallujah, and setting up more checkpoints throughout the city - moves which have greatly angered residents.
On May 19, most of these measures, perceived by many people here as a form of collective punishment, began to be more strictly enforced.
"Americans and their Iraqi collaborators are blaming us for their failure in controlling the city and the whole country," Ahmed Alwan of a Sunni religious group, the Muslim Scholars Association, told Inter Press Service (IPS). "This kind of collective punishment only means slow death to the people of the city and is adding to their agonies that have continued since April 2003."