HADITHA MUSLIM CLERIC HATE

Insurgents resist U.S.-led attack
On Wednesday, an imam was killed during a firefight in Haditha, Iraq.

By MICHAEL MARTINEZ
Chicago Tribune

HADITHA, IRAQ Guerrillas kept up their resistance Thursday as about 1,000 U.S. Marines and Iraqi forces sought to wrest control of an insurgent stronghold in the country's far western reaches.

A firefight unfolded after nightfall in the southern part of town, but casualty reports were still unavailable early today, said Maj. Plauche St. Romain, intelligence officer of the 3rd Battalion of the 25th Marine Regiment.

The streets were largely deserted during the second day of Operation New Market, despite urgings for residents to return to their routines, such as sending their children to school for exams.

Haditha, a city dominated by Sunni Muslims, is in Anbar province, where few voters participated in January's vote that led to the creation of a Shiite-dominated government.

On Wednesday, U.S. forces killed a local imam after he shot at them during a firefight, the military said.

The cleric, Ismaeel Abbulah Shesh, was a leader of the Qaryat Al Khaolfah Mosque.

Lt. Col. Lionel Urquhart, commander of the 3rd Battalion of the 25th Marine Regiment, said he was interested in seeing the reaction to the death when residents went to mosques to pray today.

"Whether it's to be used as a rallying cry - so-and-so died for the greater good and you should do this - or (as a reason to find) a diplomatic solution, I don't know," he said.

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