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Byline: Stephen J. Hedges
HUSAYBAH, Iraq _ It was the end of another tense night inside the close, neglected walls of this building in a far-off corner of western Iraq. Army Capt. Steve Smith's face betrayed the weariness that came with his new assignment: guarding this squat symbol of Iraq's uncertain future. But he made a stab at cordiality.
"Welcome to the Alamo," he said one morning last week, extending his hand to a visitor. "It has been unusually quiet."
The quiet did not last. It never does. Within a few hours, Smith and his men were being pummeled by mortar rounds, rocket-propelled grenades and rifle fire.
Of the many violent episodes that ripple each day through the Iraq that America has invaded and is now struggling to remake, the running standoff at the police station in Husaybah, nestled against the Syrian border, is one of the oddest.
The station itself has no strategic value, and there is no question that U.S. forces there, with more than 1,000 reinforcements nearby, can hold it. But in just the last two weeks, the complex's 10 rooms, three cells and courtyard the size of a boxing ring have become the most violent place in …