Maki Nazzal, a Fallujah native who travels into the city frequently as an aid worker, said substantial support remains for the foreigners, especially given the number of civilian casualties caused by U.S. airstrikes.
"Not all the people in Fallujah want these people to leave," Nazzal said. "They always have the explanation of Americans bringing people from Spain, Salvador, Poland and over the world to help them and why can't our brothers help us?"
Residents of Fallujah, Iraq, search through the rubble of a building in the city center destroyed by a U.S. airstrike.
(Bilal Hussein -- AP)
Some foreign fighters already have left, at least for now. The fighting Tuesday in Hit erupted as Marines pursued insurgents who had recently arrived in the city from Fallujah, residents said.
"There are Arab fighters and Iraqis too," said Omar Jabbawi, 23, an engineering student at Anbar University. "They are supplied with modern weapons which even the modern army didn't have. They killed some of the people the moment they came, saying that they were spies for the Americans."
The blend of insurgents held the town, some patrolling a street of shuttered stores, others praying on the sidewalk.
"Most of the people of the city knew that after Fallujah, the fighters will come to Hit because it is an open city and has many wide woods in which maneuvering is easy," said Abeer Fadhill, 32, a traffic policeman.
A woman in Hit said one fighter had said they had come to liberate Hit as they had Fallujah.
"We don't want to be another Fallujah," said the woman, 45, who gave her name as Umm Hussein. "Ramadan is coming, and we don't have any will to lose a father, a son, a relative or even a friend. Let them leave in peace and fight in a desert away from houses and people."