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Ramadi Residents Flee The City

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Ramadi residents flee the city, Ukraine to withdraw its forces from Iraq


2/25/2005 11:30:00 AM GMT


Residents of Ramadi, the capital of the western Anbar province, started to escape the city after the latest assault launched by U.S. occupation forces and Iraqi troops.


The U.S. army and Iraqi soldiers launched their offensive on Sunday in a bid to crack down on Iraqi fighters in the western Anbar province, with their operations focused in Ramadi, some 100 km east Baghdad.


On Thursday, they stepped up their operations, using warplanes and an AC-130 gunship. At least 100 suspects have been captured since the offensive started.


Fearing that the attacks could be similar to the Fallujah nightmare, where most of the city’s population was forced to flee during the three-month long offensive, many Ramadi citizens decided to take their belongings and travel to Baghdad or to the camps where Fallujah residents escaped to.


Government offices and stores are closed and residents are facing difficulties buying food supplies as the assault came suddenly and without warning, so they didn’t have any time to prepare.


Several checkpoints have been established around the city of 400,000 and a curfew has been imposed. Cars are being inspected carefully and any suspect is taken for further interrogation, Marines' spokesman Lt-Col Paul Brathen said.


“People have started to flee the city but it's too early for that," he added.


"Tired of fighting"


But the residents, tired and afraid of the ongoing violence, chose to leave the city before the situation worsens.


"They want to destroy the whole area and build a New York City there, and for that they are tearing down everything. We want to live in peace. We are tired of fighting and bombs. God, please protect us," said Muhammad Farhan, a father of five, who was leaving the city with his family.


Firdous al-Abadi, a spokeswoman for the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS), said that many people have been stuck in the city’s university and inside Masjids for over 48 hours as fighting raged outside.


"The government should take responsibility and provide those people with everything that is required for their survival," al-Abadi added. "People are tired of running from place to place."


She also said that the IRCS sent a supply convoy last weekend to Fallujah, adding that more than 100 families were still homeless inside the city after their homes were damaged.


"This fighting should stop to prevent more displaced people in our country. If those already displaced are not receiving any help from the government, what will happen if more people become homeless?" al-Abadi asked.


Ukraine to pull out its forces from Iraq


Ukraine’s Defense Minister, Anatoly Hrytsenko, announced on Thursday that his country will withdraw all its 1,650 forces from Iraq, the sixth-largest contingent in the U.S.-led occupation forces.


"I believe that our troops will be withdrawn this year," Hrytsenko said, adding that "The president will decide what month this will take place and it is the president's decision whether or not this will be carried out in two or three phases,"


The withdrawal of Ukraine’s forces will dismay the U.S., especially after Poland’s decision to pull out a third of its 2,400 troops from the war-torn country due to strong domestic rejection to the deployment.



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