On April 1, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, deputy director of operations for the US military in Iraq, promised an "overwhelming" response to the Blackwater deaths, stating "We will pacify that city,"
On April 3, the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force received a written command from the Joint Task Force, ordering offensive operations against Fallujah. This order went against the wishes of the Marine Commanders on the ground who wanted to conduct surgical strikes and raids against those suspected of involvement in the Blackwater deaths.
On the night of April 4, the US forces launched a major assault in an attempt to "re-establish security in Fallujah" by encircling it with around 2000 troops. At least four homes were hit in aerial strikes, and there was sporadic gunfire throughout the night.
By the morning of April 5, headed by the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, American units had surrounded the city with an aim towards retaking it. American troops blockaded roads leading into the city with Humvees and concertina wire. They also took over a local radio station and handed out leaflets urging residents to remain inside their homes and help American forces identify insurgents and any Fallujans who were involved in the Blackwater deaths.
It was estimated that there were 12-24 separate "hardcore" groups of insurgents, armed with RPGs, machine guns, mortars and anti-aircraft weapons, some of it supplied by the Iraqi Police. By April 6, military sources said that "Marines may not attempt to control the center of the town."
The U.S. attacks were taking a toll on civilians as well as the insurgents however, and the Coalition faced growing criticism from within the Iraqi Governing Council, where Adnan Pachachi said, "these operations by the Americans are unacceptable and illegal."
Al-Jazeera reporter Ahmed Mansur, and cameraman Laith Mushtaq, the only two non-embedded journalists covering the conflict since April 3, reported that an unknown source stated that...