NEAR FALLUJAH, Iraq – U.S. military planners and intelligence analysts believe Iraqi insurgent leaders holed up in Fallujah will defend the city by combining scrappy fighting with a media blitz designed to provoke a worldwide outcry.
The insurgents understand that they cannot beat the U.S. military, but will probably try to hold off the assaulting forces, killing as many U.S. troops as possible and provoking a backlash in the United States over American casualties, U.S. Army officials say.
“He wants to make it as painful and costly as he can,” said Army Maj. Eric Larsen, of the 1st Cavalry Division’s 2nd Brigade. “He’s testing us. How much are we willing to pay for that real estate?”
At the same time, the insurgents will seek to exploit public horror in the Muslim world as well as among U.S. allies over civilian deaths, with the goal of forcing the U.S. military and Iraqi governments to negotiate, Army officials said.