An account from Agence France-Presse about demonstrations in Fallujah by Sunnis celebrating the American withdrawal from Iraq included this strange passage about the battles of Fallujah:
That year, the U.S. military launched two massive offensives against Fallujah, signs of which are still visible today in collapsed buildings and bullet holes in walls. The first offensive in April aimed to quell the burgeoning Sunni insurgency but was a failure — Fallujah became a fiefdom of Al-Qaeda and its allies, who essentially controlled the city. In November, a second campaign was launched, just months before legislative elections in January 2005. Around 2,000 civilians and 140 Americans died, and the battle is considered one of the fiercest for the U.S. since the Vietnam war.
“But was a failure” is not a good description of the first siege. The Marines were on the verge of taking the city until the Iraqi Governing Council petitioned Paul Bremer to call off the assault, making it more a tragedy than a failure, in that too many courageous Marines died on the verge of victory.