Another name for this battle is Operation Vigilant Resolve. The aim of this resolve was to flush out extremism in Fallujah and to arrest the people responsible for the murder of 4 United States contractors. This killings occurred in March 2014 served as the primary motivation for the First Battle of Fallujah. This killing was highly publicized and involved private military contractors from the United States, and it followed the murder of five American soldiers’ earlier. The battle led to a very divergent spread of views in Iraq.
Before the battle, the background climate of Fallujah suggested such a battle. Saddam Hussein’s leadership brought great benefits to Fallujah in terms of economy and employment—a lot of the citizens of Fallujah served as intelligence agents and soldiers under Saddam’s administrative. In spite of this, when Saddam Hussein was overthrown, little compassion came from the people of Fallujah, which a lot of people felt was cruel. Even though Fallujah was considered as one of region’s religious and cultural epicenters.
When the Ba’ath infrastructure fell, residents of kept their town going and preserved it from falling into the hands of looting and criminality. They did this by electing a local council to oversee the city, and this council was led by Taha Bidaywi Hamed. The council leader, as well as the council were nominally pro-American and hence the military decided it was unlikely that Fallujah would become a cesspool of murderous activities. As a result they decided to deploy few troops to the city and focus their energy and troops elsewhere.
Before now, Fallujah had been bombarded by scattered air strikes, however the public remained impassive to their activities. But then on April 23, 2003 about 850 troops marched into Fallujah and used al-Qa’id primary as their forward base of operations. This led the public’s opinion to be galvanized, fomenting into about two hundred citizens gathering in front of the school at a time that was past the curfew and demanding for the soldiers to remove themselves from the compound so their children can return to school.
The US military deployed smoke gas into the crowd, hoping it would dispel them, however they remained adamant and only grew more heated with time. The US military reports that some time later, they took some fire by unknown gunmen in the crowd, leading them to return fire. This led to the deaths of seventeen people. About seventy people were injured. No American soldier died. The US military reported that the firefight took place in less than a minute, though other sources claim it stretched on for half an hour.
Some days later, people gathered at the former ruling party’s HQ to condemn the killing of protesters by the US military. This gathering was also shot at by US soldiers, resulting in the killing of three more people. When questioned, the soldiers declared that their shooting was strictly in response to being shot at. They said they could not fire except they were fired at.
The soldiers stationed in Fallujah were then exchanged by soldiers from another division, who in June 4 were attacked when they were conducting a presence patrol. These soldiers were attacked by a rocket propelled grenade as they were getting back into their vehicles to return to base. One was killed in action while six were injured. Additional troops were requested by the B.CO Renegades (the new US military division in Fallujah) and their reason was that they needed to quench the rising hostility and resistance in Fallujah.
Later in June, motorcycles were being seized by the military because they asserted that these vehicles were being utilized by extremists in hit and run attacks against the soldiers. June 30 saw a mighty explosion in a mosque take the life of an imam. Residents claimed that the Americans had fired on the mosque, while the soldiers said it was an accident by extremists and insurgents who were making bombs in the mosque. The following year, the commander of US forces in the whole Middle East made a visit to Fallujah. His convoy was attacked by insurgents by bullets and RPGs who had infiltrated the security forces of the Iraqi.
Following this, a false emergency was created outside the city, causing the police to respond. Once the police were out of the station, three police stations were attacked by insurgents at the same time, leading to seventeen police officers dead and eighty seven taken for ransom. At this time, regular raids were being conducted by the US forces in Fallujah. These raids often resulted in firefights with the locals.
The state of Fallujah continued to deteriorate until March 2004 when the city fell to the intensity of guerilla factions. This intensity led to the US military withdrawing all its troops from the city. Occasionally they would invade the city to try and establish a foothold, but were successfully repelled by the insurgents.
At the end of March, 2004, insurgents attacked a convoy carrying four Blackwater private military contractors. They were killed instantly by machine gun fire and an exploding bomb. Their dead bodies were set ablaze and dragged through the streets in a public display of disgrace. The bodies were later hanged from a bridge that crossed the River Euphrates. The images were broadcast all over the world, sparking outrage in the United States.
Before now, the Marines had been planning campaigns that were less aggressive—they sought to work with local leaders and provide humanitarian aids and so on. This was put on hold after a direct order from above to conduct a military operation to decimate the guerilla factions in Fallujah.
The person believed to be the chief suspect in the ambush on the Blackwater convoy was Abu Musab. He was also suspect to be the chief planner of acts of terror in the city. However, intelligence operators were skeptical of this belief because the man was used to leaking images to Aljazeera rather than exhibit them openly to the world. After thorough investigation, the conclusion was that Ahmad Hashim was responsible and the US Air Force dropped a bomb on the safe house he was believed to be holding a meeting.