The rumour mill is buzzing. Gossip and news travel quickly in Iraq, and the word is that US troops will start conducting joint patrols with the Iraqi army and police tomorrow. Such patrols seem destined to kick off further fighting between the citizens of Fallujah and the marines. 'Even if the mujahedeen will not kill them, the people will kill them. Those who lost their brothers or their fathers will kill them. It will be even stronger than the previous resistance. The problem now is not protecting our homes or our property, it is protecting our family,' said Abdullah, whose brother was injured by US soldiers during last month's street fighting. He made the women and children in his family leave the city during the fighting, but the men remained to protect their homes and businesses. Thomas Johnson, the public affairs officer for the marines in the city, declined to discuss when the patrols would begin, for 'obvious reasons'. The northern reaches of the city, such as Jolan, will not be patrolled by US troops but by a new Iraqi force. Members of that army sat smoking cigarettes in Jolan yesterday. They wore the uniforms of the former army and the people seemed more amenable to their presence, although some residents said they still viewed the members of the old army as traitors for co-operating with the occupying troops. At the checkpoint into and out of the city, long lines of cars wait to be searched on each side. A marine complained as he searched a car that Iraqi Civil Defence Corps soldiers, who were supposed to take over the checkpoint, were lazy. But the Iraqi Civil Defence Corps' lack of enthusiasm may be more related to the marine's methods than to laziness. 'We will dismantle this checkpoint as soon as we can,' said Mohammed Alwan al-Jumaily, an Iraqi colonel. 'The families here have to wait a long time and it's hot.' Colonel Jumaily said a date for the joint patrols had not yet been set, hesitating when asked what he thought the patrols would bring. 'The people will not accept this unless the sheikhs of the tribes make a deal with them,' he said. At a former soccer stadium, now a cemetery, in the city, the dead from last month's fighting are still being buried. Nearly 500 people are already interred there, with room being left for more. Bodies that were buried in gardens because the fighting prevented them from being transported to the cemetery are still being brought in, and excavation of bodies buried under pancaked houses has yet to begin.