Sunni fighter Abu Mujahid lost a leg battling U.S. Marines in the Iraqi city of Falluja, scene of some of the fiercest battles of the Iraq war.
Small pieces of shrapnel still pit his skull and scars decorate his body after a missile strike in 2004 by a U.S. warplane on the city in the western province of Anbar — Iraq’s Sunni heartland and once a stomping ground for al Qaeda.
“Yes, we fought them to the death and we dreamed of the day when they would leave Iraq,” he said, laying aside a crutch as he sat down on a plastic chair in his house.
“But their withdrawal at this time is not in Iraq’s interest,” Abu Mujahid said.
His views echo widespread fears for the future among once dominant Sunnis, many of whom joined the insurgency after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion but now fear the departure of U.S. forces will cement Shi’ite Muslim — and Iranian — domination.
U.S. forces will not leave Iraq for another 16 months, the deadline for a complete withdrawal set in a bilateral security pact signed by former President George W. Bush in 2008.
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