- FALLUJAH, Iraq (AP) -- In
Fallujah's darkened, empty streets, U.S. troops blast AC/DC's "Hell's
Bells" and other rock music full volume from a huge speaker, hoping
to grate on the nerves of this Sunni Muslim city's gunmen and give a laugh
to marines along the front line.
- Unable to advance farther into the city, an Army psychological
operations team hopes a mix of heavy metal and insults shouted in Arabic
- including, "You shoot like a goat herder" - will draw gunmen
to step forward and attack.
- The loud music recalls the Army's use of rap and rock
to help flush out Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega after the December 1989
invasion on his country, and the FBI's blaring progressively more irritating
tunes in an attempt to end a standoff with armed members of the Branch
Davidian cult in Waco, Texas in 1993.
- The marines' psychological operations came as U.S. negotiators
were pressing Fallujah representatives to get gunmen in the city to abide
by a cease-fire.
- Almost a week after negotiations halted a U.S. offensive
against insurgents in the city, the marines continue carving out front
line positions and hope for orders to push forward. Many are questioning
the value of truce talks with an enemy who continues to launch attacks.
- "These guys don't have a centralized leader; they're
just here to fight. I don't see what negotiations are going to do,"
said Captain Shannon Johnson, a company commander. Word of truce talks
last week forced his battalion to halt its plunge into the northeast section
of the city just hours after arriving to back up other forces.
- In the meantime, perhaps the fiercest enemy ó
everyone here seems to agree ó is the boredom, and worst of all
the flies that pepper this dusty Euphrates River city west of Baghdad.
But Fallujah's front lines remain dangerous.
- On Friday, insurgents fired several mortars at U.S. forces.
One of the shells blasted a chunk out of a house where marines are positioned,
filling the building with dust and smoke. No one was injured.
- A short time later, an F-16 jet dropped a 2,000-pound
bomb on the city, sending up a massive spray of dirt and smoke and destroying
a building where marines had spotted gunmen.
- At night, the psychological operations unit attached
to the Marine battalion here sends out messages from a loudspeaker mounted
on an armored Humvee. On Thursday night, the crew and its Arabic-language
interpreter taunted fighters, saying, "May all the ambulances in Fallujah
have enough fuel to pick up the bodies of the mujahadeen."
- The message was specially timed for an attack moments
later by an AC-130 gunship that pounded targets in the city.
- Later, the team blasted Jimi Hendrix and other rock music,
and afterward some sound effects like babies crying, men screaming, a symphony
of cats and barking dogs and piercing screeches. They were unable to draw
any gunmen to fight, and seemed disappointed.
- As he kept watch from a roof, 18-year-old Private James
Cathcart said the men were eager to attack.
- "Everyone here wants to push forward. Here, you're
just a target," he said.
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