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Peace Returns to Fallujah

Iraqi security forces are slowly regaining control of this once volatile city, much to the relief of residents.
By Hussein Ali

Calm is returning to Fallujah courtesy of the residents of this one-time haven for insurgents who are helping Iraqi security forces keep the city safe.

Police and National Guardsmen are now able to walk freely in Fallujah, and inhabitants say they are finally enjoying peace after months of living in fear.

Security officers credit the city’s citizens for the change.

"The people help us and provide us with information about the terrorists,” said Abbas Yousif, a National Guardsman. “The Iraqi police and National Guard carry out their duties easily, and they are in full control of the city."

Muhsin Ali, a fellow National Guardsman, agrees that with the people’s help, law and order is being restored.

"The people provide us with anything we need,” said Ali. “Our relationship with them is good.”

The major American-led military operation in Fallujah in November 2004 largely ousted insurgents who previously had control of the city. More than 200,000 people fled during the fighting, and the town was virtually destroyed.

Reconstruction is happening at a slow pace and militants still operate on the outskirts of Fallujah, but residents say peace has returned to the city centre.

Thair Mustafa, who sells electrical equipment, said life has returned to normal.

"Before the terrorists would kill any member of the Iraqi police and National Guard,” he said. “But now [they] roam around and people are happy with them coming, as they organise fuel distribution."

Omer Sami, a taxi driver, said before the American assault on the city, residents “endured terrible days at the mercy of murderers”. He said the insurgents prevented men from having their facial hair removed or having western- style haircuts.

"Thank God the heroic Iraqi army saved us from those murderers, and we now live in peace and stability,” said Sami.

Musafir Sood, a civil servant, said life under the insurgents was similar to the Taleban regime, the Islamic government that once ruled Afghanistan.

"We were afraid to talk or have discussions with those armed men as they might kill us,” said Sood. “Thank God we got rid of them."

Hussein Ali is an IWPR trainee.

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