After he took command Sunday of the First Marine Expeditionary Force and its 42,000 troops in many of Iraq's toughest areas, from Fallujah and Ramadi west of Baghdad to trouble spots south of the capital, Lieutenant General John F. Sattler declared, "The status quo in Fallujah cannot stand."
The top US operational commander in Iraq, Lieutenant General Thomas Metz, said on a visit to Camp Fallujah that Fallujah may soon see a campaign similar to one in [Samarra], where troops from the Army's First Infantry Division entered the city last week for the first time after weeks of insurgent control.
He described a complex, delicate situation inside Fallujah. The one benefit of pulling out, he said, has been to force rival rebel gangs to turn on one another once they were no longer united against the attacking Marines. "Foreign fighters were operating in three- to five-man cells all over the city," he said. "With the start of the Fallujah Brigades, we saw the people of Fallujah start to isolate the foreign fighters. We took advantage of that and targeted them."