Seven warplanes pierced the night sky over Iraq, racing toward Baghdad on a mission to behead Saddam Hussein's government and perhaps hasten a war's end. Trying to stay invisible to the Iraqis, the planes sprinted at just under the speed of sound. The assignment was so secret that none of the pilots had been briefed on the identity of their target. The approach of dawn colored the sky. The crews caught glimpses of Baghdad through breaks in the clouds. Two pilots split their formation and dived for a bucolic retreat on the south bank of the Tigris River. The Iraqi President slept there.
As other US Navy Tomahawk missiles and satellite guided bombs from F-117
Stealth fighters struck the Baghdad area, President George W. Bush spoke from
the Oval Office. "Now that conflict has come, the only way to limit its
duration is to apply decisive force," Bush said in his four-minute address
delivered about two hours after the 2000 Hours (EST) deadline he had set for
Saddam to leave the country. "This will not be a campaign of half-measures,
and we will accept no outcome but victory."
In the hours following the first strike of targets in and around Baghdad, in
retaliation, Iraqi forces fired missiles into Kuwait in a series of apparently
ineffectual counterattacks against US troops and Kuwaiti civilians, forcing
American soldiers to put on gas masks and chemical protective suits. Coalition
Defense officials indicated that at least one of the missiles fired was a
Scud. Following the missile attack, each side exchanged artillery fire in
localized battles as the Coalition Forces continued to update target surveys
for the main preparation event of "Shock and Awe" which will proceed the
The military launched the operation on areas east of Kandahar, the former spiritual headquarters of the Taliban, after receiving "a mosaic of different intelligence inputs" of activity in the area. Soldiers combed rough mountain terrain where radio transmissions had been detected coming from caves above the villages.
The assault was one of the biggest in Afghanistan since Operation ANACONDA
just over a year ago, King said. That eight-day battle pitted hundreds of
Taliban and al-Qaida fighters against thousands of American and allied Afghan
troops. Since then, the multinational, US led coalition has carried out at
least a dozen major offensives. An operation of similar size took place in
neighboring Helmand province about a month ago in which several suspected
militants were killed and about 30 were captured.
On Friday, 21 March (Day-2), another wave of sea launched cruise missiles fell on Baghdad for the second straight night in the escalation of the war to drive Saddam Hussein from power. In the capital, red and white anti-aircraft tracers lit the night sky and a huge plume of smoke rose into the night from the west bank of the Tigris River in central Baghdad. These attacks were not the beginning of the massive air assault that the Pentagon plans to unleash. Rather it was a direct, pinpointed assault of the elite Republican Guard strongholds and the main palace of Saddam Husse in Baghdad. In southern Iraq, white light glowed in the desert sky, and the sound of explosions could be heard from across the Kuwait-Iraq frontier as the 3rd Infantry Division unleashed its artillery barrage. Among the targets hit by coalition strikes were a military site in the southern town of Basra near the Kuwaiti border and another target in Akashat, a town about 300 miles west of Baghdad near the Syrian border.
In the second day of the war, US and coalition forces swept across the Iraqi desert, seizing key towns in the southern part of the country. A convoy of Bradley fighting vehicles and M1A1 Abrams tanks and other vehicles from the 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, lead element of the 3rd Infantry Division, raced virtually unopposed toward Baghdad in "a huge wave of steel."
In lightening raids, US and British troops seized two strategically important air fields in western Iraq. The two western Iraq air fields, known as H-2 and H-3, considered important to the continued military operation inside Iraq and the field known as H-3 is also considered by US intelligence to be a potential Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) site.
US Marines seized a portion of the main road leading from Kuwait to Basra,
suppressing resistance from Iraqi mortars and arms. Within a few hours of
crossing into southern Iraq, the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit encountered
200 or more Iraqi troops seeking to surrender as they advanced toward key
Iraqi targets in southern Iraq, including Basra, the nation's second-largest
city. One group of 40 Iraqis marched down a two-lane road toward them and
surrendered. They were told to lie face down on the ground, then were searched
by Marines. Later as the 1st Marine Division entered the town of Safwan, they
were greeted by waving Iraqi civilians.
Later in the day, US and British Royal Marines, took full control of the Al-Faw Peninsula oil installations and the strategic port of Umm Qasr in southern Iraq. Utilizing the specialized support of US Navy Seal teams, two main offshore Gulf oil terminals, 22 miles off Iraqi's southern coast were seized. Umm Qasr, located along the Kuwait border about 290 miles southeast of Baghdad, gives US and British forces access to a sea port for offloading military and humanitarian supplies and will speed the clearing of Iraqi resistance in the south.
Meanwhile, administration officials were debating whether Saddam survived the
first strike of the war and to what degree his senior leadership has been
shaken. Iraqi government spokesman Mohammed Sahaf said Friday that Saddam is
"safe" even though the Iraqi leader's home and family had been targeted.
Regardless of the Iraqi leader's fate, the apparent disarray within the Iraqi
leadership led US and coalition officials to alter the original war plan, which
had called for an immediate and extensive bombing campaign to create "shock
and awe" among Iraqi soldiers.
Many missiles struck the presidential compound of President Saddam Hussein. As many as 25 buildings were blown up in a matter of 10 minutes. Other buildings that were on fire included offices of the Council of Ministers and a government bunker. The Baghdad strikes were from sea-based cruise missiles. The attack lasted over 3 1/2 hours with the "all clear" not being sounded until 2330 hours (local). In parallel with the Baghdad attack, hundreds of sorties were carried out against targets in other Iraqi cities.
On Saturday morning, 22 March (Day-3), Baghdad awoke to brilliant sunshine
clouded by dense smoke left from the mammoth US air attack on Friday evening.
A half-dozen loud explosions from sporadic follow-up strikes punctuated an
otherwise eerie silence that settled over the Iraqi capital awaiting the next
aerial strike. During the day, at least 20 columns of dark smoke could be seen
rising from points around Baghdad after intermittent explosions were heard
throughout the day. It was reported that the plumes were coming from fires
that Iraqis had set to oil containers around the city to obscure targets. A
series of strong explosions shook the Iraqi capital soon after sunset, and
some of them appeared to be in the center of the city. Aircraft could be heard
overhead when the strike on offices of Iraqi leadership and command centers
began about 1915 hours (local).
The battle for Basra, an oil hub of some 1.3 million people, was underway
by midday, with coalition troops trying to surround Iraqi positions and force
a surrender. As US aircraft bombed Iraqi tanks holding bridges close to the
city, Iraqi forces responded with artillery fire. The final assault on Basra
was delayed pending final results of negotiations for "a peaceful surrender"
which would avoid a bloody urban battle. The British took charge of continuing
negotiations and fighting at Basra, permitting the Marines to continue north
and advance to Baghdad on a more direct route along the Tigris River. Later in
the day, aircraft from the Golden Dragons Squadron from the Kitty Hawk dropped
seven laser-guided bombs on artillery pieces at Al-Qurnah, north of Basra, in
support of the advancing 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.
The soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division, who remained at Fort Hood, TX, after their weaponry and equipment went to the Mediterranean last month, are likely to go to Kuwait or, as an alternate, they could enter Iraq directly through the Gulf port of Umm Qasr, now under the control of US Marines and British forces.
At about 1500 hours (local) Saturday, a key city, An Nasiriyah, on the north bank of the lower Euphrates River, 233 miles southeast of Baghdad fell to US forces, opening a major route to Baghdad for US Army mechanized troops advancing northward. The main thrust was provided by the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, from Fort Benning, GA. Units from that division had come under artillery fire Friday afternoon as it approached An Nasiriyah. After radar tracked those rounds to their source, artillery fire was returned and the Iraqi guns were silent.
An artillery barrage preceded the attack by tanks, mechanized infantry and
attack helicopters. The first target was the airfield at Talil, just outside
An Nasiriyah, the home of the Iraqi's 11th Division.
Late Saturday, the brigade had encountered Iraqi fighters, believed to be members of the ruling Baath party militia, and fought until dawn Sunday, destroying 15 vehicles, killing at least 100 of the Iraqi militiamen and capturing 20 prisoners of war.
The first real test could come when the Third Infantry Division encounters the Republican Guard, Hammurabi Division, on the southwestern approach to Baghdad. Similarly, when the Marines encounter the Republican Guard, Nebuchadnezzar Division on the southeastern approaches.
The relentless drive to Baghdad continued at a record pace. The 3rd Squadron,
7th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division has been battling a battalion size
force of the Iraqi army but remained ahead of schedule in its march. Earlier
Sunday, the 3rd Squadron was halted near the city of Najaf. They began to take
some small arms fire and called for close air support and long range artillery
to attack enemy forces to the north. In the artillery barrage, three shells
landed within 75 yards, sending troops scrambling to disperse their tanks and
armored vehicles. Once on target, the artillery pounded the Iraqi positions.
Earlier, soldiers on reconnaissance missions had seen members of the Iraqi
Republican Guard herd Iraqi women and children to military positions for use
as human shields.
The US Marines entered the city after Iraqi forces ambushed a US military convoy bringing supplies to coalition forces in the region. The vehicles were destroyed, and a dozen soldiers of the 507th Maintenance Company were missing and later determined to have been captured.As Sunday evening came, the pace of air strikes over Baghdad picked up. Smoke billowed into the night sky after a heavy bombardment on the palace of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Multiple explosions shook Baghdad in one of the heaviest air attacks of the war, setting buildings ablaze and clouds of smoke into the sky. Fires were blazing in the southeast of the city and the sky was full of smoke.
In the early hours of 24 March, Apache attack helicopters of the 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division attached to Task Force 11th Aviation operating under the command of the US Army V Corps, fought a fierce battle with units of Iraq's Republican elite Medina Division units between the cities of Karbala and Al Hillah, about 96 kilometers (60 miles) south of Baghdad.
One of the elements of the opposing force struck was Iraqi T-72 battle tanks, the most advanced tank used by the Iraqi forces. The Republican Guard was estimated to have at least 90 of those tanks, along with "multiple" pieces of field artillery and armored personnel carriers, The attack started after midnight and lasted about three hours. The Apache unit went up against the 2nd Armored Brigade of the Medina Division, which is part of the Republican Guard, the troops most loyal to Saddam Hussein. Many Apaches were hit by fire, but managed to destroy 10 Iraqi tanks before cutting off their attack. They also attacked positions between Karbala and Hillah, which straddle the Euphrates River south of Baghdad.
During the battle, one of the AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopters (99-5135) of
"C" Company, 227th Aviation Regiment received a hit which damaged the Flight
Management Computer. Losing control, the pilot had to make an emergency
landing and come down in a field near Karbala, about 60 miles southwest of
Baghdad, close to the site where the fierce predawn battle took place. The
attack force had not expected such strong Iraqi resistance from what they
thought were mostly civilian populated areas.
After their Apache helicopter came down, Chief Warrant Officer David S.
Williams and Chief Warrant Officer Ronald D. Young jumped in a canal and swam
a quarter-mile but were caught by armed farmers who spotted them in the
moonlight when they tried to run for cover in a stand of trees. The villagers
beat them with sticks and were threatened at knife point. Afterwards the two
men were thrown in the back of a pickup truck and driven around "to show all
the other people that they had captured Americans. Originally, the Army
classified the two men as "missing in action", but later in the day, the Iraqi
Government showed them on local and national TV channels and announced that
the two pilots had been captured and would be treated as prisoners of war.
The trip north passed bombed anti-aircraft guns, empty foxholes and berms dug for tanks that had been abandoned by Iraqi forces. But the weather, not Iraqi troops, halted the long columns of thousands of vehicles that were stretched across the desert terrain and farms.
Meanwhile, outside the Shiite holy city of Najaf, south of Karbala, US soldiers skirmished with Iraqi forces before dawn Monday. Iraqis shot rockets and anti-aircraft guns at the US forces. Small groups using pickup trucks or on foot tried to approach US positions but were driven back by tank and artillery fire.
Further to the south, British troops exchanged artillery with Iraqi forces on
the outskirts of Basra. British troops had remained outside the city, unable
to move through and secure it because of pockets of resistance that was
coming from irregular units, either the elite Republican Guard, Special
Security Organization forces or Saddam's Fedayeen, the Baath Party
With distant explosions growing in frequency, more and bigger defensive trenches around the city are being constructed, including in the courtyard of the Iraq museum, home to priceless antiquities, some dating to 7,000 BC.
US and Coalition bombers and artillery continued to pound at positions of elite Republican Guard units arrayed in defense of Baghdad as 3rd Infantry Division slowly advanced toward the capital and took positions within 50 miles of Baghdad, in front of the Republican Guard's feared Medina Division. Progress was hampered as a weather front blew in from the west, whipping up sandstorms that slowed the advancing forces and hampered air operations, reducing visibility near zero in some places.
Moving north, at a location 150 miles south of Baghdad, a large convoy of the Marines' 1st Expeditionary Force, regained control of the city and crossed the Euphrates River and Saddam Canal at Nasiriyah late, resuming their key advance. The convoy had raced through the streets along a protective corridor of US armor, crossing first the river and then the canal, after engaging heavy fighting using AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters and artillery. Success in breaking through sets up a northward advance on the far bank of the Euphrates that could eventually form the eastward arm of a classic pincer movement.
Plans called for the 3rd Infantry Division, backed up by the 101st Airborne
Division, to attack the Medina Division north of Karbala, while the Marines'
1st Expeditionary Force would hit the Republican Guard's Baghdad Division
outside Al Kut.
Elements of the 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd ID were east of An Najaf, about 90 miles south of Baghdad, when they suddenly came under fire from rocket-propelled grenades. The Iraqis advanced on foot and it was not clear whether they were from regular army units, paramilitary forces or the Republican Guard. Air strikes were called in support of the battle. Within minutes, A-10's dropped 500 pound bombs and raked the Iraqi positions with cannon fire. Early estimates of the number of Iraqis killed in the fight varied widely, from 150 to 500.
Further south, it was the third consecutive day that US Marines have battled Iraqi forces for control of the key north-south route in the southern city of Nasiriyah. The city has been the site of some of the heaviest fighting of the war. The Marines are fighting to secure control of the bridges over the Euphrates River, which are a key to the US advance north toward the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.
In the most southern Iraq city of Basra, British commanders reported a popular
uprising against the ruling Baath Party was under way. Groups of 40 to 50
citizens gathered at various locations on the streets and British forces had
taken out an Iraqi mortar firing on the apparent protesters. Elements of
Iraq's 51st Division have massed at Basra, bringing artillery, tanks and
infantry into some civilian areas. In addition about 1,000 irregulars of the
Iraqi army have withdrawn into the city. In support of the Iraqi forces, a
militia called the Saddam Fedayeen, dressed in civilian clothes, is on the
outskirts of Basra are resisting with human shields in front of them and are
firing toward the British.
The decision to take down the television station which would potentially kill civilian employees was made at the Presidential level. This action was taken so that the station could not be used as an alternate method of communicating with the Iraqi soldiers in the impending battle with the Republican Guards that are believed to be dug in on the southern flank of the city to defend it against the US and British forces.
Meanwhile, thousands of Iraqi troops were reportedly moving south from Baghdad under the cover of blinding sandstorms on a route that appeared likely to place them in the path of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. There were conflicting reports about whether Republican Guard units were among those on the move.
Further south, unexpectedly stiff resistance from Iraqi forces, possibly including the Saddam Fedayeen militia, and a powerful sandstorm combined to slow the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force who had been fighting in recent days around An Nasiriyah. The unit is now on its way north toward Baghdad where Saddam and his regime are expected to make their last stand.
By the evening of Wednesday, the column had moved with mortar fire coming in
front and behind, to at least as far as the city of Qal at Sukkar, about 60
miles north of Nasiriyah and 140 miles southeast of Baghdad. The Marines
acknowledged they have been forced to abandon their breakneck race to the city
and instead take the time to destroy Iraqi mortar nests and other targets
along the route.
As ground troops ringed the city, two Harrier jet aircraft used
satellite-guided bombs to obliterate the Basra headquarters of Saddam's ruling
Baath party located in the middle of the town. As aircraft attacked, a Iraqi
convoy of 70 to 120 vehicles, armored vehicles and armored personnel carriers
moved out of Basra under cover of sandstorms. They were quickly attacked by
coalition aircraft and artillery, raising hopes that British troops could soon
enter a city on the verge of a humanitarian crisis.
Aid agencies had been trying to rush water to the besieged population of some 1.2 million people amid fears of a humanitarian crisis in the mainly Shiite city unless local water processing plants can be placed back in operation soon. The first convoy of shipments, five trucks, loaded with 45,000 boxes filled with water and food was managed and operated by the Red Crescent Society in Kuwait. More will be heading over the border Thursday.
A unit of the Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Italy, stepped out of C-17 Globemaster transports and parachuted in to seize Harir airfield 45 miles northeast of the Kurdish city of Arbil, about 30 miles south of the Turkish border in territory controlled by the Kurdish Democratic Party, This unit becomes the first sizable American military presence on the ground in that part of the country signaling the beginning of an American strategy of opening a northern front against Saddam Hussein's regime. Previously, before this operation, several hundred special forces troops were the only US units operating on the ground in northern Iraq.
The denial of Turkey to open up a northern flank prevented a pincer attack on Baghdad from happening and required the movement of airborne units to secure air fields and preparation to airlift elements of the US 1st Infantry Division, equipped with Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles to establish a staging area.
Increased attention of US Forces to the northern front was emphasized when
earlier in the day, US warplanes pounded Iraqi positions in the north. Five
large explosions threw up plumes of black smoke on the hilltops overlooking
Chamchamal, a town in the Kurd-controlled Iraqi enclave wrested from Baghdad
after the 1991 Gulf War.
Following up on previous overnight reconnaissance reports, waves of B-52 bombers pounded the convoy of Iraqi military vehicles before they could reach the lead elements of the 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division in Najaf, about 60 miles south of Baghdad. The force was smaller than initial intelligence reports suggested and that most of the force was destroyed. Air traffic controllers with the US Air Force that the bombers pounded the convoy "almost into oblivion."
The vicious sandstorms that blunted US airpower for days began to abate as US
forces headed north toward Baghdad, warned of a possible confrontation with a
huge Iraqi convoy moving south - Saddam Hussein's best-trained, best-equipped
and most tenacious fighters, the Republican Guard. Through reconnaissance, it
was later confirmed that the convoy consisted of "Technical Vehicles" (a
pickup truck with machine guns mounted on the truck bed) manned by Militia
As an indication that the push to Baghdad continues to build, the first American aircraft, a C-130 cargo transport, at Iraq's second largest airport, Tallil Airbase, just outside Nasariyah. Tallil Airbase was captured by US soldiers on Saturday. It is now an important base that will become a major forward resupply base for American forces. Supplies and men can be delivered there, without having to travel by ground from Kuwait and risk bloody encounters with Iraqi forces still roiling the south.
Tallil Airbase is the second largest airport in Iraq after Saddam International Airport at Baghdad. It was covered by the US - British enforced no-fly zones and has not been used since the 1991 Gulf War. Several American units already are operating at Tallil, where troops have designated it as "Bush International Airport."
Adding to the 90,000 ground troops that has flowed into Iraq since the start of the campaign, some 36,500 additional will soon join in the battle. Task Force IRONHORSE, consisting of 12,500 soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division based at Ft. Hood, TX, 4,000 soldiers from the 3rd Brigade, 4th ID based at Ft Carson, CO and 20,000 others from 10 different CONUS installations are in process of deployment. Soldiers from the US Army's 4th Infantry Division, which had planed to enter northern Iraq through Turkey, cased their colors and their advance parties began deployment - flying out of Fort Hood, TX on Thursday.The remainder of the 4th Infantry Division will fly to Kuwait early next week. Their 3rd Brigade Combat Team, stationed at Ft. Carson, CO, will deploy directly to Kuwait and join up with the Division and other elements of the task force. The soldiers will meet up with their equipment being transported, under the control of the Military Traffic Management Command, on the 36 ships which were diverted to Kuwait from the Mediterranean holding pattern, where it had been on board navy ships for weeks awaiting Turkey's approval to station troops in their country.
The ridgeline is the main geographical obstacle between PUK held areas and Kirkuk. Several peshmergas moved along the ridge checking for any remaining Iraqi troops. They took over the first main Iraqi checkpost position on the road, passing over the ridge, to Kirkuk. The buildup of the northern front is intended to 1) form a controllable buffer zone between the southern border of Turkey and Iraq which prevents Turkey from entering the war on a political basis, 2) support the interdependence of the Kurdish population and 3) the new threat represented by US forces and equipment beginning to land in the Kurdish held north might force the Republican Guard units to move away from Baghdad in response to the threat, exposing them and making them more venerable to air attack.
The impact of Turkey's refusal to use their southern border territory for the launch of a northern front will cause the political winds to swirl long after the war ends in Iraq. Testifying in a supplemental budget request meeting, deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told Congress "Turkey made a big mistake - There's no question, if we had a US armored force in northern Iraq right now, the end of the war would be closer,"
Continuing the relentless targeted attacks on the capital city, explosions
shook central Baghdad and more blasts rocked the city's outskirts. A new wave
of bombing targeted the outskirts of the city in the latest of a series of
attacks through the day and into the evening. New military defensive positions
on the eastern and southern perimeter of Baghdad were pounded hard. Hours
later, shortly after 2300 hours (local), the air assault delivered one of the
strongest blasts felt in the city in days as allied forces zeroed in on one of
Saddam Hussein's presidential compounds in the heart of Baghdad.
Another round of powerful explosions began on Friday, 28 March (Day-9) at 0230 hours (local). and went on for a half hour, with aircraft heard flying overhead and bursts of antiaircraft fire. The Palestine Hotel, where many reporters were staying, shook violently during the blasts. Coalition air forces and Tomahawk missiles took out a communications and command and control facilities in the capital city during the night.
On Friday, in the first major movement on the northern front against Baghdad, fighters from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) captured the town of Qarah Anjir, situated in hills east of Kirkuk. A major task in the undertaking was the clearing scores of anti-tank and anti-personnel mines left behind by the retreating Iraqi army.
The Iraqi Kurd rebels advanced to within 16 kilometers (10 miles) of the northern oil capital Kirkuk after Iraqi government forces abandoned their positions, bringing them to within striking distance of their most prized objective.
America's battle plan for Baghdad is taking shape, with US forces now in
position to strike the Iraqi capital from nearly all sides, or to mount a
siege and wait for Saddam Hussein's regime to surrender or fall to internal
In the early stages of a growing indication of a major battle, US troops used tanks, artillery and helicopters in a clash with an Iraqi force of about 1,500 men overnight near the town of Najaf in central Iraq. It was not immediately apparent whether the Iraqis were regular troops or elite Republican Guards. Armed with artillery, they were moving from a position northeast of Najaf when they were detected.
One group of Marines traded fire with Iraqi forces amid the burning
buildings of An Nasiriyah, while others pushed north of the strategic city
in a grinding bumper-to-bumper movement of weapons and supplies. Clashing
repeatedly with Iraqi fighters in front and behind, the convoy was moving
and night, headlights out, on a fighting drive north toward Baghdad.
A CH-46 Marine transport helicopter was forced to turn back after being fired on while trying to pick up casualties and deliver supplies to Marines fighting in An Nasiriyah. Iraqis fired small arms and rocket-propelled grenades.
An Nasiriyah, located on the Euphrates River near a junction of roads that lead from Kuwait to Baghdad, has been the scene of some of the fiercest fighting of the war, prompting Marines to call the southern entrances to the city "Ambush Alley".
Late Friday, US led air forces diversified their campaign over Iraq, bolstered by forces of the Army's 101st Airborne Division. Apache helicopter gunships raided Republican Guard units south of Baghdad. In the 101st Airborne's first major attack during the war two of the Apaches crashed, but all crew members escaped injury. Helicopters from the 2nd Battalion took out four tanks, six armored personnel carriers, 15 vehicles, a fuel site and a fiber-optics tower.
The attack force also included artillery and Air Force jets. There was no substantial damage from enemy fire to the helicopters beyond some small-arms and anti-aircraft fire, but two of them crashed in conditions pilots called a "brown-out", which is caused by clouds of brown desert sand stirred up when a helicopter approaches the ground. One pilot from the first crash had a possible broken leg, but the others were in relatively good shape.
As British troops encircled the southern city of Basra, a few thousand Iraqi
civilians tried to flee the besieged city but were chased back into the city
by mortar and machine gun fire from Iraqi local paramilitary forces. Soldiers
from the British 1st Black Watch battalion, 7th Armor Brigade positioned their
Warrior armored fighting vehicles between the militia fire and the targeted
civilians. This action is perhaps are the first pieces of evidence that the
Iraqi paramilitary wants to keep their population in the city as a shield. and
they fired on them to force them to return.
Just ahead of it was the British mine-detecting ship HMS Sandown, clearing a route. The security escort only underscored the lingering risks of navigating the Khor Abdallah waterway, where US and British mine sweeping teams had found and detonated six potential mines in the past 36 hours.
Working intensively to clear the port entrance of mines, the teams had cleared a 200 yard-wide channel along the 40 mile-route from the Persian Gulf into the port of Umm Qasr, which allied forces are hoping to make the center for humanitarian relief distribution.
On Friday, the UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution to restart the UN humanitarian aid program once the US led war winds down. The program had providing food to 60 percent of Iraq's 22 million people until it was halted last week before war erupted. The resolution aims to hasten delivery of aid by giving Secretary-General Kofi Annan control for 45 days over the oil-for-food program that utilized Baghdad's oil revenues to get in medical supplies and food.>
Taking a more aggressive posture against the besieged Iraqi city of Basra on
Friday evening, US warplanes fired laser-guided missiles destroyed a two-story
building where some 200 Iraqi loyalist paramilitary fighters were meeting. In
what the Central Command called "an emerging target.", a pair of F-15E Strike
Eagles fired laser-guided munitions fitted with delayed fuses, meaning they
penetrated the building before detonating to minimize the external blast
effect. The report describing to mission indicated that, a church 300 yards
from the two-story building was undamaged.
The city's mosques began broadcasting the call to prayer over their
loudspeakers as the raid began. A media pool television camera on the
Information Ministry building was still filming after the blast, indicating
that if the building had been targeted, it was not destroyed. As dawn broke
on Saturday, the distant thud of air raids shook the southern approaches of
the Iraqi capital where the crack Republican Guard are believed to be dug in,
preparing for an expected attack by US forces. The fires, started a week ago
by authorities around the capital to conceal targets, burned furiously,
sending darker than usual clouds over the city on an otherwise clear day.
Souq Sharq is on the Kuwaiti seafront and includes a marina, shops and
restaurants. The missile, subsequently identified as a Chinese built Silkworm
ship-to-ship missile fired from the vicinity peninsula in Iraq, was the 13th
fired at Kuwait since the US led military campaign to oust Iraq's Saddam
Hussein began on 20 March. None is believed to have carried chemical or
biological warheads, and none has caused damage or injury.
An official on the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which controls part of the autonomous Kurdish enclave, indicated that during the pullback, Saddam Hussein's forces had executed as many as 60 Iraqi soldiers who tried to cross from government territory to the Kurdish-held north to join their ranks.
Kurdish scouts advanced slowly along an emptied stretch of the Irbil-Kirkuk
road, which appeared to be mined in places. Iraqi soldiers left behind cinder
block bunkers, coils of barbed wire and sandbags. Kurds planted the yellow
flag of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, one of the two main Kurdish factions,
atop a small hill overlooking an abandoned village.
Not to forget, while the swamp is being drained in Iraq, that the battle against world terrorism continues. as the US broke up alleged Iraqi terrorist plots in at least two countries in the Middle East which may uncover information on similar plans to be carried out in almost a dozen cities around the world, The disrupted attacks had been planned by members of Iraq's intelligence service masquerading as diplomats and had targeted US and British interests.
Earlier in this month the US had requested some 60 countries to expel Iraqi intelligence agents posing as diplomats had been instrumental to breaking up of the plots. The two countries in which the attacks had been thwarted were not identified, but those nations did assist in disrupting the plans. On Sunday, Jordan expelled five Iraqi diplomats, accusing them of trying to undermine "security" in the kingdom.
Information obtained from Iraqi POWs indicates that al-Qaeda fighters may be in southern Iraq, operating in Az Zubayr, coordinating grenade and gun attacks on British forces in a town near Basra. If the prisoners' report is true, it may provide a concrete link between Saddam Hussein's regime and the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center.
Several links between al-Qaeda and Iraq have been reported previously in
northern Iraq, an al-Qaeda-affiliated group called Ansar al-Islam who is
allegedly plotting suicide attacks on US forces and has allegedly experimented
with chemical weapons. Other reports indicate that Ansar al-Islam has about
600 members and it may be getting reinforcements from al-Qaeda cells in
Chechnya and other regions as indicated by the information that two members of
an Afghanistan-based al-Qaeda cell were killed this week in a shootout between
US and Ansar al-Islam forces.
A series of the "key" strikes of satellite-guided bombs targeted the main training site for Iraqi Fedayeen paramilitary forces who are in charge of security functions in eastern Baghdad, a presidential palace, intelligence complex and surface-to-air missile sites.
Early on Sunday, 30 March (Day-11), four very loud, deafening explosions
rocked a Baghdad residential compound where many government officials live
northwest of the Information Ministry, as one of the fiercest US led air
assaults of the war stretched into a second day. Black smoke was seen
billowing from apartment buildings in the area, which is believed to contain
underground bunkers and is usually off-limits to ordinary Iraqis. At one
point, an orange fireball illuminated the sky, followed by columns of white
smoke. The bombing in central Baghdad targeted a complex inside a presidential
palace that was used by President Saddam Hussein's powerful son Qusay. In a
second round of attacks at first light, explosions thudded around the edges of
Baghdad and nearby areas where Republican Guard defenders are based.
US and British forces overriding impression of "Lessons Learned" by the first week's combat is that the Iraqis have developed an elaborate set of "dirty" tactics to capitalize on the Coalition's reluctance to endanger civilian lives. According to troops here, Iraqi forces have:
The Iraqi troops using these tactics are, for the most part, not regular army
soldiers. Rather than rely on his regular soldiers, Saddam has pushed up to 30,000
of his most loyal paramilitary troops south from Baghdad into the towns and cities
of southern Iraq.
Army supply trucks appeared on the Marine route north for the first time
Sunday, supporting field reports that US Army and Marine forces were meeting
for the first time and may join in together for the ground invasion, which
previously had the Marines moving along Route 80 and Army forces punching
their way northwest across desert terrain.
Coalition forces are concerned about resistance from paramilitary groups and other die-hard supporters of Saddam who often travel in civilian vehicles and use unconventional war tactics to maintain the regime. Using loud speakers mounted on their Humvees, the soldiers will soon begin requesting that the townspeople take the initiative and turn over paramilitary members. They also will stress that the Americans have no intention of harming civilians.
There has been no time line established for possibly entering the city. The
most successful outcome would be that the Najaf residents would first rid the
town of any paramilitary fighters. The alternative, and probably the most
dangerous, would to engage in urban combat. In that case the enemy is
positively identified only when he begins to shoot.
The raid came as large fires continued to rage near the center of the city,
sending clouds of black smoke billowing into the sky. The blaze was apparently
from an oil-filled trench set alight in the hope of hampering laser targeting
by US and British air strikes.US - led troops fought pitched battles with
Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard within 50 miles of the capital Monday as
coalition warplanes pounded the city and dozens of other Iraqi positions in
advance of the battle for Baghdad. Early Monday, a few US military units moved
into the "red zone" around Baghdad as others cautiously made their way up the
Euphrates River, taking on stubborn clusters of resistance.
At least 35 Iraqi troops were reported killed in the fighting in Hindiyah,
situated between the sacred city of Karbala and the ruins of ancient Babylon.
The prisoners told the Americans they belonged to the guard's Nebuchadnezzar
Brigade, based in Saddam's home area of Tikrit, and they had the guard's
Further south, Apaches of the US army's elite airborne unit, the 101st Airborne Division, were involved in "medium" intensity battles with Iraqi forces near the holy Shiite city of Najaf. The Apache and Kiowa Warrior helicopters have struck a range of military targets around Najaf, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) southwest of Baghdad, in support of ground troops in the area.
During the engagement,described as "medium intensity" combat, they destroyed
several ammunition storage facilities, some air defense systems, many vehicles
as well as ammunition trucks. However, one of the several helicopter that took
small arms fire from forces hiding "inside houses", was unable to respond to
the fire because its weapons system failed after being struck.
British aircraft provided close air support for tanks moving into Basra
itself. Meanwhile, British artillery pounded the western suburbs of the city,
according to the Arabic news channel Al-Jazeera, which showed live pictures
of clouds of smoke and debris said to be concentrated on an area six
kilometers (four miles) from Basra's center. Conquering the city would mark
the first major victory for coalition forces.
The camp, run by Islamic radicals who call themselves Ansar al-Islam, had been pummeled by US AC-130 gunships and British aircraft and missiles pounded the Ansar compound from the air for several days before the coalition and Kurdish ground forces entered the compound, located in a Kurdish-controlled area near the border with Iran. The Ansar al-Islam training camp bore a striking resemblance to al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistan, thriving in desolate areas beyond the control of local officials. An undisclosed number of captured defenders are not Iraqis, nor are they Iranians, but they're most likely al-Qaeda.
Analysis of the cache of documents discovered at the Ansar al-Islam compound,
including computer discs, list of names of suspected militants living in the
United States and foreign passports belonging to Arab fighters from around the
Middle East, may be the strongest evidence yet linking the group to al-Qaeda.
In addition, there were indications that the group had been getting help from
inside neighboring Iran.
The missile attack appeared to be most concentrated strike on the center of
Baghdad since the war began, and state buildings appeared to have been hit.
Balls of smoke slowly merged into a single cloud above the battered city. War
planes were briefly heard high above in the sky, carrying out another of what
coalition commanders had said are thousands of bombing raids that have been
chipping away at Saddam's 24-year grip on power.
Of the 1,000+ strike sorties that were launched yesterday in Iraq, eighty
percent were against the four elite divisions around Baghdad - the Medina, the
Hammurabi, the Baghdad and the Al Nida Divisions. Analysis of the results of
this constant bombardment indicates a significant degradation and weakening of
those forces. Interviews with captured Iraqi Generals indicate that the
Republican Guard may now be degraded to a manpower level equal to one-half of
their original staff. Republican Guard formations have moving around the
battlefield, apparently to reinforce other forces that have a degraded
capability or been significantly damaged by air strikes.
The latest attacks followed three days of concentrated bombardment on key targets of key government buildings, military and presidential sites in the heart of the city of Baghdad as US led ground troops fought their way, through heavy resistance, to within 50 miles of the capital city.
Coalition bombardments have focused recently on Republican Guard units
protecting the approaches to Baghdad. The goal is to wear down Saddam's
best-trained forces ahead of a US led ground assault on the capital. At least
8,000 members of the Republican Guard's Medina division are positioned between
Karbala and Baghdad, reportedly in the Karbala Gap, an area between a large
reservoir and the Euphrates River. Inside Karbala, at least 4,000 Iraqi
militiamen and soldiers may be laying in wait,The Iraqis are also believed to
have positioned several dozen tanks near the city, mainly vintage T-55s and
The first decisive battle of the war in Iraq may be coming in a place called
the Karbala Gap. After days of pounding the Medina Division of Iraq's
Republican Guard with airpower and artillery, the US 3rd Infantry Division is
preparing to launch the war's first major ground attack against Saddam
Hussein's best soldiers. It was reported that on Monday, the Guard's
Nebuchadnezzar Division had been moved from near Tikrit, Saddam's hometown,
south to reinforce the Medina Division near Karbala.
The campaign began with the bombing and engagement of Iraqi troops across a
large arc south of Baghdad on Tuesday, a day-and-night pounding meant to pave
the way for an attack on the capital. Warplanes unleashed a thunderous
nighttime barrage against Republican Guard units positioned around Karbala,
about 50 miles from the capital. The 101st Airborne and the US Army's 3rd
Infantry Division were active in a concerted drive against Baghdad with two
formations of US marines to their east also moving toward the capital.
At least 75 Iraqi fighters were killed and 44 were taken prisoner, including
two Republican Guard officers. The Marines, who provoked the fight by going
into an area where they had been fired on before, used 155mm artillery to
clear mortar nests and destroy Iraqi tanks.
During the battle, the infantry, helicopters and tanks met strong resistance in the city over the past three days, but Iraqi soldiers now appears to have given up their defense posts.
Meanwhile in Basra, a southern city of 1.3 million, warplanes dropped 500
pound and 1,000 pound laser-guided bombs on an Iraqi intelligence complex.
Flares lit the night so that the British units could more closely observe the
actions of die-hard Iraqi defenders have kept them at bay for days. After
nearly two weeks of war.
In support of the final drive to Baghdad. fresh US forces are flowing to the Persian Gulf, including 500 members of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment who left their Ft. Polk, LA base on Sunday. Personnel along with their Humvee scout vehicles, Kiowa reconnaissance helicopters and other equipment were sent by air, enabling them to get to Iraq quicker than if the equipment had been sent by sea as originally planned. Other members of the 2nd Armored Cavalry are to go by sea. Their mission is to help protect US supply lines from Iraqi attack.
The first echelon of soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division, Task Force IRONHORSE, began to arrive in Kuwait on American Airlines flight 777 to join up with their military equipment, including Apache fighter helicopters, Bradley fighting vehicles and Humvee armored vehicles, on ships which was diverted from their holding position off the shores of Turkey. The first four, of a total of 36 ships, offloaded at the port of Shuaibah.
The 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, based at Ft. Carson, CO, will also be
arriving. Five transports, carrying its equipment from ports in Texas, are now
on their way to the Gulf and two more are in process of loading.
Smoke poured out of a tall building to the west of the city center, where many government buildings were located. A communications center near a bridge across the river Tigris also appeared to have been hit as fames rose from the area. Smoke also rose to the east of the center in an area where airforce and other military buildings are situated. Tracers, profiling the trajectories of, anti-aircraft fire lit the sky as aircraft could be heard flying overhead.
Sustained explosions could also be heard toward the southern outskirts of the sprawling city, where Republican Guards are believed to have dug in to defend Saddam, in the path of advancing US troops.
The US Coalition offensive had planned a major ground offensive in the days
following intensive bombing of the Adnan (to the north), Baghdad, Medina.
Hammurabi, Nebuchadnezzar and Al Nida Divisions of the Republican Guard,
Iraq's best trained, best armed and most loyal forces. On Wednesday, US
troops, entering what is expected to be the fiercest combat of the war in
Iraq, launched a major ground offensive south of Baghdad in a twin-pronged
attack, Army forces from the southwest and Marines from the southeast,
passed two key hurdles in their advance on the Iraqi capital and battering
elite Republican Guard units in punishing raids.
Foregoing an entry to the city, they went around it and, passing through a key strip of desert to the west of Karbala, engaged the Medina Division of the Republican Guard and took control of the dam on Lake al-Milh. Following the attack, battle assessments indicate that the Medina Division, Republican Guard was degraded, rendering them incapable of effective maneuvering.
To the southeast, the Marine 1st Expeditionary Force bombed Al-Kut, a key city on the Tigris river, on Wednesday, in a renewed advance toward the Iraqi capital Baghdad. They seized the strategic town of Al-Kut, around 150 kilometers (90 miles) southeast of the Iraqi capital and routed the Baghdad Division of the Republican Guard division force that had been guarding the highway leading to Baghdad.
After securing the bridge, Marines manned machine-guns from cover, wary of
possible attack from nearby palm groves or houses. A Humvee all-terrain
vehicle broadcast loudspeaker messages to the local people, telling fighters
to surrender, while Huey combat helicopters circled overhead. Crossing the
Tigris river at Al-Kut taking control of the important Highway 6, they opened
a vital route for supply and troop movements towards Baghdad. Heralded as a
major movement, the operational capability of the Baghdad Division, Republican
Guard was degraded, rendering them incapable of effective maneuvering and
being able to stop coalition maneuvers.
The attack on Najaf was aimed at clearing out the Fedayeen, paramilitary
fighters who have spearheaded resistance to the US and British invasion. The
attack drew return fire from defenders who took refuge by hiding in one of the
world's holiest Muslim shrines. Attacking such holy sites would alienate
Iraq's majority Shiite population, whose support the coalition has been trying
to rally, and inflame Shiite feelings against the United States worldwide,
particularly in Iran. Although return fire is allowable under the rules of
engagement, with restraint, none was returned in fear that the shrine would be
On Wednesday the US bombing, part of a gradual escalation along the northern front, continued as aircraft bombed Iraqi troops in Kurdish-held northern Iraq them to retreat in several areas on the second day. The Iraqi forces left some of their front-line positions in such a hurry that they abandoned valuable supplies of ammunition and injectors containing the nerve gas antidote atropine. They also left behind a deadly trail of mines.
As the bombing was in progress, Kurdish fighters and residents of Kifri, a town of 20,000 people 75 miles northeast of Baghdad, ran into the streets, pocked with shell craters, and climbed onto rooftops to watch planes. pound Iraqi positions about one mile away. They cheered as smoke rose above hilltop bunkers.
Late Wednesday the 3rd Infantry Division came to within 20 miles of the southern outskirts of Baghdad and were firing rockets north at the Iraqi positions. US spy planes spotted the reinforcement units of Iraq's Republican Guard moving south from the capital during the night and early Thursday, 03 April (Day-15), other Iraqi units began to reinforce positions around the capital's airport which is a prime candidate for an air assault base for spearheading entering and operating around the city of Baghdad.
Also on early Thursday morning, a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter went down in southern Iraq, killing two of the 6 soldiers aboard. The helicopter, the second to go down in combat, was downed by small-arms fire near Karbala, the site of fierce fighting between the 3rd Infantry Division and Iraqi troops, including Republican Guard forces. The other four wounded soldiers on board the Black Hawk were rescued. An investigation surrounding the incident is ongoing.
Huge explosions shattered the silence across Baghdad early Thursday at 0300 hours (local), with blasts rocking the center of the city and a plume of white smoke rising from the southern end of the Old Palace grounds in the capital. More cruise missiles and bombs hit Baghdad in the next 30 minutes. Afterward, the sound of intermittent explosions and occasional bursts of antiaircraft fire could be heard in the distance.
On Thursday continuing their northern drive, the 3rd Infantry Division and
Marine 1st Expeditionary forces surged forward into the outskirts of Baghdad,
yet to be slowed by the Republican Guard which appeared on the verge of
collapse. Lead units of the multi-pronged US assault force were within about
10 miles of Baghdad, approaching Saddam International Airport. Army troops
closed in from the southwest after crossing the Euphrates River and the
Marines advanced from the southeast in a long column along the Tigris River.
Both main force elements incurred minimal losses in those battles.
Saddam's elite Republican Guard troops defending the capital have come under
intense and regular bombardment, but it seemed to have been strongly stepped
up after midday on Thursday. Explosions and the wail of air raid sirens have
become a staple of Baghdad's nights since the campaign began with the first
missile attack on 20 March.
Meanwhile in the city of Baghdad, a flood of deserters and civilians began
moving out on buses, trucks, taxicabs and whatever they can catch a ride on,
trying to make their way south to their families or American forces to
surrender. US support aircraft had counted more than 60 buses filled with
Iraqis fleeing Baghdad. With so many people on the road, it was impossible to
conduct further military operations, it was necessary to stop and set up a
hasty prisoner of war compound.
The 3rd Infantry Division continued the main drive north toward Baghdad, with
a rain of US shells directed at the Saddam International Airport, about 12
miles southwest of the of the sprawling city of five million. Residents of the
Iraqi capital heard artillery fire for the first time on the edge of the city.
The Iraqi regime was headed into a third week of war, voicing undying
defiance, as the aerial blitz of Baghdad appeared to grow heavier and US
ground forces closed on the battered capital. Meanwhile there were indications
of a continuous barrage of pounding fire that appeared to be coming from the
southwestern Iraqi defense lines at 1700 hours (local).
In a Pentagon briefing describing the mission, it was
alleged that the Iraqi Defense must have taken the initiative and turned off
the electrical generating system for Baghdad, because the US Central Command
had always avoided targeting any of the electrical power grids for
The struggle for control of Baghdad gathered pace as US forces took partial control of the Iraqi capital's airport after racing to the outskirts of the city. More than 1,000 troops could be seen in and around the airport located 20 kilometers (12 miles) southwest of Baghdad, which came in for new bombing raids in the early hours of Friday, 04 April (Day-16) at 0200 (hours), that left buildings in flames. More explosions were heard in central Baghdad, bringing the total figure to 16 in the space of about three hours as US ground forces closed in on the Iraqi capital. Many of the strikes hit presidential palaces belonging to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
Before dawn Friday, US infantry occupied part of Baghdad's airport and sealed
the entrance closest to the capital, fighting to seize a strategic prize as
coalition forces converged on Saddam Hussein's seat of government and closer
to gaining control of a key lever of power. Tanks of the 3rd Division rumbled
through the entrance of the sprawling Saddam International Airport, past a
building-high portrait of the saluting Iraqi President. Gunshots were heard
from inside, and it was unclear how many Iraqi troops remained in the airport,
about 10 miles southwest of central Baghdad.
Combat patrols were moving through the area, which has numerous military and
civilian buildings.The airport was a key first objective for the 3rd Infantry
and Marines converging on the capital from the south. Securing it allows
coalition forces to bring in more troops, military equipment and humanitarian
On the northern front, heavy fighting and bombardments continued. Kurdish and
US forces were less than 18 miles from Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city, after
Iraqi forces retreated. Iraqi soldiers, meanwhile, were struggling to hold
control of the village of Khazer, six miles from the vast fortifications
overlooking Kurdish-held Kalak, which they fled Wednesday. The allies fired
artillery on Iraqi front-line positions Friday morning. The Iraqis returned
fire with rockets and artillery and hit Kalak with several mortar strikes.
In Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, about 56 miles northwest of Baghdad, US special operations forces seized the presidential palace, a summer vacation retreat for Saddam and his sons. The fighters encountered sporadic and light resistance on the ground, but troops overwhelmed them. No regime leaders were present when US forces raided the building. There was no indication that Saddam had been there recently. During the raid, US forces retrieved important documents and other material from the palace that could help in future battles and in the hunt for chemical and biological weapons.
The soldiers of "A" (Attack) Company, 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division made steady progress through the southern outskirts of Baghdad, coming upon small pockets of Iraqi resistance and destroying them, one by one, for more than four hours, leaving pillars of black smoke rising in their wake. The armored juggernaut of sand-colored Bradley fighting vehicles and M1A1 Abrams tanks rolled down the narrow, single-lane farm roads and overwhelmed the Iraqi defenders, who fired small arms and rocket-propelled grenades from palm groves. Overall, US troops and warplanes involved in the sweep destroyed more than 13 tanks, three armored personnel carriers and four technical Vehicles (civilian trucks) used by Iraqi fighters. The roads around Baghdad were filled with burning trucks and military vehicles, the acrid black smoke creating a haze in the otherwise sunny day.
US Marines have reported that about 2,500 Iraqi Republican Guards surrendered
between Kut and Baghdad. The surrender after clashes of the 1st Marine
Expeditionary Force and the Baghdad Division of the Republican Guard's who
laid down their arms. Those who showed a propensity to fight become prisoners
of war, while others who have shown they do not want to fight will be allowed
to return home. Before this action, US Central Command had more than 4,500
POWs in custody.
The Marines lost three of their best tanks in the two-hour battle and at least eight Marines were wounded, though they still captured their last objective before moving on to start operations into Baghdad. Two Cobra attack helicopters were hit by ground fire and made emergency landings, but returned to their bases in southern Iraq and were expected to return to the battle Saturday.
Army tanks and infantry of the 3rd Infantry Division, reinforced by elements
of the 101st Airborne Division and the 94th Battalion, an engineering unit
defended the Baghdad International Airport overnight after US forces won
control early Friday. In addition, hundreds of US troops would added to the
estimated 1,500 now at the airport. With US commandos already inside Baghdad,
columns of Army and Marine armored vehicles advanced on the city from the
southeast. meeting occasional stiff resistance.
Deep in the "Red Zone" of Baghdad, US and Coalition Forces, with images of the
apocalyptic urban warfare of Stalingrad and Grozny to sober them, have slowed
down the direct attack on Baghdad, regrouping and are studying alternate
warfare approaches to avoid revisiting some of the darkest chapters in modern
military history. The chaotic battles for those cities in the 1940s and 1990s
stand as testament to the carnage and military humiliation that characterizes
urban combat. Avoiding that trap in Baghdad, where Saddam Hussein and his
personal security force of at least 15,000 and loyalists that are expected to
fight to the death, is the keystone of a successful war-end-game, both
militarily and politically.
Saturday, US Army soldiers Saturday captured the headquarters of the Medina Division, Republican Guard in the town of Suwayrah, about 35 miles southeast of Baghdad. Two tank companies and an infantry company of the 3rd Infantry Division rolled through the headquarters unopposed and quickly took over the entire base. It appeared that the Republican Guard defenses had completely collapsed.
Outside the base on a three-mile stretch of road were hundreds of bunkers and foxholes and dozens of artillery pieces, anti-aircraft guns, tanks, and armored personnel carriers. All of them had been abandoned by Iraqi troops. No troops could be seen. When US troops pulled into Suwaryah, the Republican Guard artillery pieces were sandwiched between civilian homes and business. Hundreds of young men in civilian clothes stood on the side of the road waving as US troops drove by.
On Saturday morning, the Army's V Corps moved into the city from the south.
The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force came in from the southeast. The 1st Marine
Expeditionary Force engaged the Al Nida Division of the Republican Guard and
penetrated the division. On the southern outskirts, Marines had engaged in a
close-quarters fighting with pro-Saddam volunteers from Jordan, Egypt, Sudan
and elsewhere. They were given a rifle and told to become a martyr. As other
Marine units advanced north, Iraqi civilian vehicles fled south, packed with
bundles and bearing improvised white flags made from torn-up towels or
The tanks came up from the south and made a reconnaissance swing through Dawra suburb, some 7 to 8 miles from the city center until they reached a loop in the Tigris, across the river from Baghdad University, where the road swings to the west. Tanks came under small arms fire but did not encounter any heavy fighting. Completing their first mission into Baghdad, the tanks turned south and returned to the security of the International Airport area for the evening. The US.troops will continue moving into Baghdad as and when it chose, however recognizing that the war against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's forces is far from over.
In the town of Aziziah, 80 km (50 miles) southeast of Baghdad US Marines are digging up a suspected chemical weapons hiding place in the courtyard of an Iraqi girls' school. They were making slow progress through reinforced steel and thick building material.
During an interrogation of the residents, one of the local people grabbed a Marine's gas mask and pointed to this site The Marines said that a man who described himself as an ex-member of the Iraqi special forces said that a group of Iraqi men had knocked down a wall of the school two months ago, hidden something and concreted it over in the course of three nights.
The US 101st Airborne Division launched an air assault to secure the central Iraqi town of Karbala, 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of Baghdad, that had been bypassed by the 3rd Infantry Division in its northern drive. A fleet of Black Hawks, Chinooks and Apache helicopters were involved in transporting more than a battalion size of soldiers into the outskirts of Karbala. The helicopters encountered little resistance and that the infantry troops would secure the outside of the city before moving in. They are on the ground to go through and secure the highways and supply routes, and also they are looking to put down any paramilitary threat in the area.
Later, in an attack that began just before dusk and lasted for nearly two
hours, Apaches of the 101st Airborne Division and air force warplanes,
including F/A-18s, carried out "a very successful" air attack against troops
of the Hammurabi Division, Republican Guard north of the Iraqi city of
Karbala, which is 80 kilometers (50 miles) southwest of Baghdad. Iraqi weapons
caches, anti-aircraft batteries and "military complexes" were destroyed in the
attack. The ease in carrying out the mission indicated that Iraqi army lacks
organization and is in disarray.
In the latest engagement, 10 British tanks and armored vehicles entered a shanty town just ahead of their positions on the city's edge, looking for militiamen, and were fired on. In the battle, eight Iraqi fighters were killed in the battle, one of the fiercest here for days, which continued in the area about three miles from the heart of the city.
The United States indicated that it plans to install the first stages of a civil administration to run post-War Iraq in the southern port of Umm Qasr within days. Members of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) of the Pentagon are scheduled to start operating in the port as early as Tuesday. In an attempt to do, even before the fighting is over in Iraq, is to move to the areas in Iraq that are relatively peaceful, places like Umm Qasr, and to start moving ORHA into Iraq.
ORHA has become the focus of international controversy. The United States
faces criticism for assuming the leading role in immediate post-war Iraq
instead of the United Nations because Secretary of State Colin Powell has
rebuffed the near unanimous demands from members of the European Union and
NATO to put the United Nations in the driving seat. Retired US General Jay
Garner is set to make his media debut in Kuwait on Monday as the man whom the
United States has named to be temporary postwar civilian administrator of
The rumblings of explosions could be heard throughout the city, growing ever louder as they shook buildings. Bombing and artillery fire sounded throughout that area, anti aircraft guns and mortars lined the southern entrance to the city, but they were mostly off the road away from the main road, the most likely entry point of American forces. On the northern and northeastern districts of the city, army tanks could be seen at major intersections. Armored personnel carriers with troops on top roamed the streets.
Following the raid, visible evidence of what may be potentially an arming for conflict with an assault force. On the northern and northeastern districts of the city, army tanks could be seen at major intersections. Armored personnel carriers, with troops on top, roamed the streets. Members of Saddam's Fedayeen, a militia led by Saddam's son Odai, appeared in the city center for the first time since the war began. They were easily identified in distinctive black uniforms. Groups of soldiers clad in Republican Guard uniforms, distinctive by their red triangular insignia, patrolled the southern outskirts of Baghdad around the neighborhood of Baladiya.
Air Force and Navy Air controllers went on a 24 hour alert, along with US
bombers, attack jets, and unmanned spy planes that were stacked up over
Baghdad on Saturday to support ground forces, virtually ringing the capital,
in what could become a battle of bloody urban combat. If remnants of battered
Republican Guards Divisions and other Iraqi military units that have filtered
into Baghdad chose to fight, warplanes are ready to launch a range of
precision bombs and rockets day and night in a new operation designed for
urban Combat Air Support (CAS).
Two large explosions rocked the center of Baghdad early on Sunday, 06 April (Day-18) just after midnight, while the sound of heavy artillery shook the southwest of the Iraqi capital. The artillery fire started up in the direction of the city airport. Allied warplanes began flying missions specifically designed to prepare for any future ground attack on downtown Baghdad. This initial attack was followed up with heavy artillery shelling that rocked central Baghdad shortly before 0100 hours (local).
Again at 0500 hours (local), Coalition forces pummeled Iraqi positions around the southern outskirts of the city with artillery, missiles and bombs. Aircraft flew along both sides of the Tigris River, which winds through the center of Baghdad, acting as "airborne forward air controllers" to direct airstrikes in the event ground forces begin fighting in the center of the city.
US artillery and planes kept up a relentless bombardment as armored columns
circled the fringes of the sprawling city of five million people. Bombs and
artillery thundered across Baghdad on Sunday as US forces tightened their grip
on the capital's outskirts, bringing up more troops and cutting approaches on
three sides of the embattled city.
The balance of the units of the 3rd Infantry Division, that allowed the main body to drive toward the capital by providing blocking to secure the perimeter of the city of Kerbala south of Baghdad, are now closing on Baghdad. The elements of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force were assigned two sectors to probe - the first, the area east of Baghdad, the second, one mile from the northeastern city limits.
Between 2,000 and 3,000 Iraqi fighters were killed in a show-of-force foray into Baghdad by American armored vehicles. The blitz took the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division from the southern outskirts of the city past Baghdad University and near the banks of the Tigris River, then back to the western outskirts of the city to the airport, which is under US control.
While some Iraqi civilians welcomed the troops, others put up a fight,
including engagements with a mixture of forces from the 8th Brigade, Hammurabi
Division of the Republican Guards, elements of the Adnan Division and irregular
forces. After completing a 70-kilometer (43-mile) push, the army controlled a
semi-circle around Baghdad extending from the Tigris in the north to where
the river leaves the capital in the south. Both. the 2nd and 3rd Brigades,
armored task forces of the 3rd Infantry Division that executed the sweep later
returned to the relative safety of American lines at the Baghdad Airport.
Another Marine battalion overran and destroyed a Republican Guard Second Corps headquarters and suspected terrorist training camp and a seized one of Saddam's palaces south of the city and anticipated to have the city surrounded by the end of Sunday. Overhead, aircraft flew around the clock, coordinating precision strikes in support of upcoming ground attacks.
In a bid to control all roads to Baghdad, intelligence reports indicated that the sole main road still to be secured on the 18th day of the war was Highway 2, leading north to the oil city of Kirkuk. In their present positions, the 1st Brigade holds the west of Baghdad and the airport along with the 101st Airborne, the 2nd Brigade is securing the south, the 3rd Brigade is holding the northwest and the Marines are in the northeast.
As if to emphasize the point of control, the first US military aircraft, a C-130 Hercules, landed on the western, military side of Baghdad International Airport at 2000 hours (local), shortly after nightfall Sunday. This action demonstrates that the Coalition is now ready to put the captured tarmac to use as an alternate resupply resource dependent, until now, on a tenuous system of highways stretching 350 miles to Kuwait.
At dusk Sunday, long bursts of heavy machine-gun fire and strong explosions rocked Baghdad in what appeared to be a battle near the city center. The shriek of surface-to-surface missiles, the pounding of artillery and bursts of what sounded like heavy machine-gun grew in frequency and intensity in the southern approaches to the city. Just before 2100 hours (local), loud explosions and gunfire were heard downtown close to the Information Ministry and a hotel where many journalists stay. Two hours later, Baghdad was quiet, with occasional light weapons and missile fire. Explosions could be heard in the distance.
Further south in central Iraq, elements of the 101st Airborne Division moved street to street and pushed into the center of the holy Shiite Muslim city of Kerbala on Sunday, after fierce battles with Iraqi paramilitaries threatening US supply lines north to Baghdad. In blistering heat, US tanks rumbled through the dusty streets and armed reconnaissance helicopters passed low over rooftops, identifying sniper positions for artillery units. On the ground, troops took cover in doorways and against walls as they moved across the city center. By the evening, as they mingled with thousands of relaxed and smiling residents, they felt confident enough to say that the city was effectively under their control.
The United States is beginning to build a new Iraqi army even before Saddam
Hussein's forces are defeated, deploying some of the nation's exiles and
internal dissidents around the country. Over 700 Iraqi "freedom fighters" are
now being airlifted to southern Iraq to join coalition troops and form the
nucleus of a new national army for that country. More will be deployed to
other southern cities, while another group will work with invasion forces in
the north. The unit is made up of Iraqi citizens who want to fight for a free
Iraq, who will become basically the core of the new Iraqi army once Iraq is
The convoy of tanks of the 7th Armored Brigade, "Desert Rats", travelling down one of the main highways which leads directly into the north edge of the city, headed into the center of Bosra, were met with "patchy" resistance as they moved in from the south west. Reports, confirmed by Iraqi civilians leaving the city Sunday afternoon, that the column of tanks and armored personnel carriers had reached Baghdad Street running through the center of Basra. A second assault team attack was carried out this afternoon with the Commando Brigade. The British have gained control of selected sectors, but there are several sectors in which they face resistance.
In northern Iraq, Kurdish forces backed by US warplanes drove Iraqi forces further back from Kurdish frontiers. The Kurds moved within 20 miles of Kirkuk, Iraq's second largest oil center, and a similar distance from the oil city of Khaneqin.
US forces in tanks and armored vehicles stormed into the center of Baghdad on Monday, seizing one of Saddam Hussein's palaces and briefly surrounding the Information Ministry in a bold daylight raid aimed at demonstrating the Coalition forces can come and go as they please.
Leading up to the incursion, coalition forces intensified their bombardment
of the Iraqi capital in the early morning of Monday, 07 April (Day-19) at
0615 hours (local), when two bombs hit the center of Baghdad and several more
struck the eastern suburbs of the Iraqi capital, followed by heavy artillery
fire. After sunrise, a long series of blasts rocked Baghdad and dark gray
smoke rose on the horizon to the south and southwest. The dawn raids followed
a relative lull, of almost 12 hours, in the US led aerial assault on Baghdad.
Artillery fire had continued on and off throughout the night. Shortly before
dawn, aircraft could be heard over the capital and heavier explosions shook
downtown buildings, echoing from the southern outskirts. Under the diversion
of the air attacks, the Army columns moved from southeast to northeast to the
newest and main presidential palace on the Tigris River.
F-16 fighter jets flew ahead of the US armored column, bombing any tanks or
armored personnel carriers along the way. US troops also fired mortars on key
intersections before passing through. Tanks took up positions around key
intersections. Attempting to set up a blocking force, Iraqi soldiers took
positions at many Tigris bridges while Republican Guards set up defensive
positions at key ministries, armed with rocket-propelled grenades.
The Information Ministry looked deserted except for several men carrying rocket-propelled grenade rifles and half a dozen army troops behind sandbagged fighting positions outside. They flashed the "V" for victory sign. Iraqi forces also took up positions in the University of Baghdad, across the Tigris River from the New Presidential Palace, and fired heavy machine guns. US troops called in mortar fire and air support.
During the armored thrust into the city, US tanks rolled through the city's parade field adjacent to the state-owned Al-Rashid Hotel and surrounded it for a time. It was used by foreign reporters during the 1991 Gulf War Not far from the Al-Rashid Hotel, Iraqi army trucks and at least two artillery cannons looked as though they were abandoned.
A prisoner of war collection point was set up in the palace compound. As Iraqis were captured in street fighting outside, they were brought to the palace for processing before being sent behind lines. At one point, a group of nine Iraqis surrendered after hearing on loudspeakers, that if they did so, they would live.
Fighting intensified afternoon at Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's sprawling Republican Palace, next to which at least three US Bradley fighting vehicles were positioned. Following the firing of buildings on the banks of the Tigris around 1600 hours (local), a group of troops got out of one of their vehicles and entered one of the buildings after setting fire to surrounding bushes.
Meanwhile, Marines closing in on Baghdad from the south were ordered to remove
their chemical warfare suits for the first time in 20 days. Presumably,
commanders had determined that the threat of a chemical or biological weapons
attack had lessened enough to allow troops, stifling in the hot desert, to
shed their gear. At the city's southern edge, though, Marines and Army troops
faced bloody fighting.
Right after the armored vehicle was shelled, Marines grabbed metal debris and threw it across the bridge to cover over the damaged span, allowing the lighter vehicles to cross safely. For the heavy armored vehicles to get across the cannel, their engineers deployed a temporary pontoon bridge. With minimal delay the Marines pressed forward into Baghdad and met little resistance as Iraqi civilians hid in their houses as they passed. Elements of the 7th Marine are now on the western side of the Nahr Diyala River.
Also, a group of US armored personnel carriers in southern Baghdad was hit by
rockets. Six American soldiers were reported missing and a large number were
The attack left a crater 60 feet deep and destroyed at least three buildings. There was almost immediate confirmation that the target was hit very hard and with high confidence that they killed everyone at the meeting, but no information as to the status of the leadership targets was given and it might take as much as two days to determine the degree of success. Rescue workers began to look in the rubble for victims. Two bodies were recovered initially, but it was indicated that the toll could go as high as 14.
Later in the afternoon, some 10 hours (1645 hours, local) after the battle began, Iraqi snipers fired on US soldiers from rooms in the state-owned Al-Rashid Hotel after a platoon conducted a patrol in the neighborhood near the palace. US tanks returned fire with their main guns and .50 caliber machine guns.
On previous incursions into Baghdad, the US forces withdrew to the security areas of the Baghdad International Airport. This time there were plans for elements to remain on station. Members of the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division hunkered down for the night at the sprawling, New Presidential Palace where Saddam once slept.
Across the river from the New Presidential Palace, Iraqis took up positions around the University of Baghdad, firing heavy machine guns across the 400-yard width of the Tigris River. Americans responded with mortar fire and close air support to rout the Iraqis.
Near the village of Albu Muhawish, on the Euphrates river between the central Iraqi cities of Kerbala and Hilla - site of ancient Babylon and about 60 miles south of Baghdad, dozens of US soldiers were evacuated from an Iraqi military compound early Monday after tests by a mobile laboratory showed the apparent presence of sarin, a powerful nerve agent.
The testing was performed after more than a dozen soldiers from the 101st
Airborne Division, who guarded the military compound on Saturday night, came
down with symptoms consistent with exposure to very low levels of nerve agent,
including vomiting, dizziness and skin blotches. The soldiers were
decontaminated and hosed down with water and bleach.
Smoke was rising over the southern port city of Basra on Monday, where British and Iraqi forces have been locked in a battle for control since the war began. With resistance on the wane, British troops moved into the "Old City" area of Basra Monday, where remaining paramilitary fighters are believed to have retreated and regrouped.
In the north, on Monday the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, composed of about 300 Kurdish fighters working with US forces, advanced, from Dohuk, at least five kilometers (2 miles) south toward Mosul, Iraq web's third largest city, capturing the small town of Faida, with little resistance along the way. The area along the main road between Dohuk and Mosul has been heavily bombed since the northern front in the Iraq war began. US Special Forces have been operating alongside Kurdish fighters, calling in US air strikes.
US forces and the Peshmerga have been pushing toward Mosul and the major oil
center of Kirkuk, the main prize in the north. Surrendering Iraqi soldiers
were defined as "our guests" by the Peshmerga and offered the Iraqis water and
biscuits. The troops then moved on another two or three kilometers south of
Faida toward Mosul.
When the sun came up, US A-10 Warthog Tankbuster jets pounded Iraqi anti-aircraft positions close to the city airport on the southwestern edge of Baghdad. During the battle one of the A-10s, conducting a close air-support mission at low altitude in support of ground troops, believed to be the first fixed wing downed by an Iraqi surface-to-air missile since the war began. The pilot, after being able to safely eject, was rescued by pararescuemen with the 301st Rescue Squadron and brought safely back to the coalition controlled area.
Elements of the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division in Baghdad indicated no plans to pull back. They now control most of the west bank of the Tigris, which divides the city, and they plan to join up with US forces at the airport, further west.
US Marines entered the capital from the south and southeast early Tuesday, sending a contingent to guard a nuclear plant protected by large berms.The 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines seized a prison overnight where they found US Army uniforms and chemical weapons suits, possibly from captured US soldiers. Other Marine units worked to secure the southeastern part of the city came under sporadic fire.
Elements of the 1st Marine Division rolled tracked armored vehicles up to the
runway at the Rashid military airfield some three miles east on the outskirts
of Baghdad and captured it. Although the airfield itself was seized with
little problem as it had been apparently abandoned by retreating Iraqi forces.
There was some resistance on the road leading to the airstrip and there was
some fighting going on beyond it,
Conditions were hot and dusty but the marines were welcomed along the way by civilians who appeared to be happy and waving at them as they threw them candy and army rations. Many of the vehicles in the convoy bore personalized markings including: "Spring break in Iraq 2003", "Baghdad or Bust", "Peace Keeper", a gun turret dubbed "The Hole in One" and a play on a television show title, "Survivor Iraq".
The unanticipated rush hour had played havoc with access to, and the
evacuation of, casualties wounded in overnight fighting. The massive amount
of troops attempting to cross the bridges is slowing everything down.
In the north side of Baghdad. US and coalition military forces were beginning to apply pressure to close off any exits and had met no organized resistance. US Special Forces of Iraq were preventing Iraqi troops moving toward Tikrit, Saddam's powerbase and birthplace. The intense resistance in downtown against the 3rd Infantry Division has calmed somewhat in the afternoon, but there is still some opposition in the area and they are taking indirect fire from mortars.
In the darkness on the evening, a unit of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force forces extended their grasp, moving into the sprawling, poor suburb of Saddam City in the northeast, home to at least two million people. There was not a single shot fired as they took the area methodically, block by block. They got a largely warm reception, with cheering and clapping, as they swept through eastern suburbs. It was one of Baghdad's calmest nights in three weeks of war and the streets remained largely quiet.
On Tuesday, in the southern city of Basra, British forces began establishing
the first post-war administration in Iraq, putting a local sheik into power
shortly after their troops took control of the city. The sheik, not identified
at this time, had met British divisional commanders Monday and been given the
task of setting up an administrative committee representing other groups in
the region. The sheik and his committee will be the first civilian leadership
established in liberated Iraq. The sheik's committee will be left alone by the
British to form a local authority. This approach to local control by the
British has the approval of Jay Garner, the retired US General heading ORHA,
who was appointed by the Pentagon to form an interim post-war administration
After one of the quietest nights since the US led war to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein began on March 20, sporadic gunfire and tank fire resounded across central Baghdad. Early on Wednesday, 09 April (Day-21), shortly before 0800 hours (local), US aircraft could be seen and heard overhead. Iraqis fired a rocket-propelled grenade across the Tigris river toward 2nd Brigade US tanks located on the western bank.
US Army and Marine units swept through Baghdad, as they encountered sniper fire from roving bands of holdout fighters, destroying buildings that once housed some of Saddam's most feared security forces. Marine tanks rolled into the heart of the city, on the east bank of the Tigris, greeted by people clapping and waving white flags.
Bit by bit on Wednesday, President Saddam Hussein's fighters appeared to be
losing their hold on the city, with much of the rest of Iraq already out of
their control. There were no signs of Iraqi police or uniformed men on the
main streets. Information Ministry officials who have shadowed reporters
through the conflict were nowhere to be seen.
While the rest of Baghdad celebrated, US Special Forces scoured the site of a building, in a residential section of Baghdad, leveled by the massive bombing of Monday evening, searching for evidence that Saddam Hussein may have been inside the building at the time the strike of four, JDAM, two ton bombs were delivered.
But the jubilation was tempered by the fact that Members of the 3rd Infantry Division were still conducting armored raids within the city and that elements of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force and holdout Iraqis were engaged in heavy fighting in the northeast part of the capital.
As another reminder that the war is not yet over, several 21,000-pound MOAB bombs often-referred to "Mother of All Bombs", or more formally the "Massive Ordnance Air Blast" munition, has been moved into the Iraqi theater, and is ready for use. No specific targets have been designated for its use or point in time, however the MOAB is the largest conventional weapon in the US arsenal. The bomb is being kept on hand as a contingency weapon.
As resistance in Baghdad crumbled, US forces began to target resident Saddam
Hussein's desert hometown of Tikrit, an area with bristling with loyalists
who could be bent on making it the site of the regime's last stand. The city
now hosts a huge army garrison for the Republican Guard, Iraq's best-trained
troops, as well as an air base and a air force academy. US Special Forces have
been watching the roads leading north out of Baghdad to Tikrit to prevent
possible attempts by Saddam to flee or any effort by the Republican Guards to
At the same time, hundreds of Kurdish peshmergas (fighters) were amassing in the town of Chamchamal, some 22 miles east of Kirkuk, waiting for additional reinforcements. Late on Wednesday, as they were assessing ways to penetrate the key northern oil hub towns of Kirkuk and Mosul, they heard the news about the collapse of Saddam Hussein's government in Baghdad. However, local "peshmerga" fighters had no immediate plans to launch an assault, although the lightly-armed forces were clearly keen to move.
In both Tikrit and the northern city of Mosul, special operations forces and airstrikes were "actively engaging" Iraqi fighters. US Special Forces and Kurdish fighters seized a strategic hilltop near Mosul and eliminating the Iraqi air defense installation near the government held city of Mosul. thus far, the most strategic gain in the region.
Early on Thursday, 10 April (Day-22) at midnight and continuing through 0130 hours (local), US warplanes could be heard flying over the northern Iraqi oil-rich city of Kirkuk along with the distant thud of explosions. Kurdish "Peshmerga" fighters, supported by US Special Forces who have been near Kirkuk helping jet fighters and heavy bombers target Iraqi positions in and around the city for several weeks, are moving from Chamchamal toward Kirkuk and are believed to be less than six miles from the city, which is still held by Iraqi government forces.
Moving on, Kurdish and US Special Forces pushing towards Kirkuk and seized the towns of Makhmur and Altun Kubri, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) northeast of Kirkuk and pushed on to Dibis, on a road running along the western edge of the Kirkuk oil fields. At Dibis, they moved into town without a fight. The oil facilities were completely intact around town. The flames that burn atop the wells were still blazing, indicating that shafts were still pumping in Iraq's number 2 oil region.
Securing the all of the Iraqi oil fields was a high a priority for US forces
as they entered the war zones of Iraq. Kirkuk is the center of oil production
in northern Iraq. As Kurdish and US Special Forces entered the northern city
of Kirkuk, the nearby town of Dibis, oil facilities were intact and a
preliminary assessment indicated that they were functioning normally and there
was not visible acts of attempting to set them afire.
In the northern desert hometown of Saddam Hussein Tikrit, a city of 260,000 100 miles north of Baghdad, die-hard Iraqi loyalists are hunkered down under withering US airstrikes and digging in for a potential last stand. The dusty town of Tikrit, has an air base and an air force academy in addition to a Republican Guard garrison, has been branded a regime stronghold by the US military. Its sprawling presidential complexes and the tunnels beneath them could serve as Saddam's final hideout. And the city's blood-bonded tribesmen could carry on fighting even if their leader is dead.
US Special Forces and Kurdish militia, known as peshmerga, have been advancing
on Mosul and other northern Iraqi cities for several days, although there has
been ten days of heavy aerial bombardment, progress had been patchy.
The tanks headed down the most direct road to Arbil, around 40 miles from
Mosul. But further down the road, at the village of Khazer, around 15 miles
from Mosul, two bridges which cross a river had been blown up by retreating
Iraqi forces. The two structures, an older, metal bridge and a modern concrete
one, were still standing, but both were impassable. The metal bridge had big
holes blasted in the roadway and the concrete one was missing a large section
at one end.
In central Baghdad, the Marine 5th Regiment, 1st Expeditionary forces, came under heavy fire at 0200 hours (local) from Saddam Hussein's loyalist fighters hiding in buildings, in cars, on rooftops and beneath bridges along the northern banks of the Tigris river. In a fierce, seven hour battle they captured one of Saddam's main palace complexes, on the northern side of the Tigris River, with one marine reported killed in action and as many as 20 wounded.
US combat helicopters came to the aid of soldiers on the ground battling Iraqi
and Arab fighters in a district of central Baghdad.The firefights pitted US
troops against Fedayeen paramilitary units and Arab volunteer fighters hiding
behind sandbag reinforcements on street corners in Al-Otayfia. Five Apache
helicopters hovered for over an hour over Al-Kadhimia and Al-Otayfia
neighborhoods, on the west bank of the Tigris as well as Al-Aadhamia on the
opposite side of the Tigris river. On the main Aden Square in Al-Kadhimia, two
Iraqi tanks and three other military vehicles were destroyed.
US troops maintained control and occupied the Oil Ministry. However, the nine-story Ministry of Transport building was gutted by fire, as was the Iraqi Olympic headquarters, while the Ministry of Education was partially burned. Near the Interior Ministry, the office building of Saddam Hussein's son, Odai, stood damaged, its upper floors blackened.
In the eastern sections of Iraq, US forces gained control of the town of Qaim, on
Iraq's border with Syria, to ensure Iraqi forces cannot fire ballistic
missiles from the area. Iraqi Special Republican Guard units, paramilitary
forces and some regular army units were still fighting in the area, but had
been weakened by air strikes and attacks by special forces. They had fired
missiles at Kuwait and it was necessary to provide "preventive medicine" to
ensure the security of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and "other countries.
On Friday, 11 April (Day-23), Barahm Salah, who is the "prime minister" of the autonomous zone of northern Iraq administered by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), indicated, in an agreement with the US Government, that US troop reinforcements were on their way and approaching Kirkuk to secure the northern Iraqi city that was seized by AFP Kurdis fighters.
Salah also indicated that the Kurdish fighters who captured the city Thursday
along with US special forces would withdraw "as quickly as possible, but not
before a sufficient number of American troops have arrived."
In an operation aimed at taking control of Iraq's largest and oldest field
soldiers from the 173d Airborne Brigade US soldiers spread out across the
northern Iraqi oil fields of Kirkuk to install spirals of concertina wire
barriers across roads leading to the Baba Gargur oil facilities, one of
several in the vast Kirkuk oil field. The soldiers were blocking access to the
site after the collapse of Saddam Hussein's government in the nearby city of
Kirkuk. Little damage was visible in the field except a plume of smoke from a
distant fire, likely to have been caused by a single burning oil well. The
one burning well may be the same one that was set on fire by accident over six
weeks ago before the invasion of Iraq. The capture of Kirkuk, capable of
pumping 900,000 barrels per day (BPD), left the US and coalition forces in
virtual control of all of Iraq's prized oil wealth.
Earlier on Thursday afternoon, the strike force of US Special Forces, 63rd Armor Regiment and Kurdish militia had continued their closing maneuvers and surrounded the roads leading to Iraq's largest northern city of Mosul. and presented the defenders with surrender terms. On Friday morning, the defending Iraqi 5th Army Corps forces, after observing signs of the overpowering force massed outside the city, agreed to the surrender terms that the members of the 5th Corps to leave their equipment on the battlefield and either returning to the garrison or simply proceeding with their lives as civilians out of uniform. Upon entering the city, residents welcomed the forces waving flags of the Kurdish Democratic Party, heralding the total collapse of support for Saddam Hussein in the north.
The fall of Mosul and Kirkuk in the north left Saddam's home town of Tikrit, on the main road from Mosul, 175 km (110 miles) north of Baghdad, as the one significant target left to the US - led coalition forces
As part of "a continuing effort to degrade the Hussein regime", a predawn strike on Friday Coalition aircraft launched six satellite guided bombs at a building near Ar Ramadi, about 60 miles west of Baghdad, in an attack on Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, Saddam Hussein's half brother. The building targeted on was an intelligence service operating site.
Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, was chief of Saddam's secret police in the 1980s and then ambassador of Iraq to UN offices in Geneva for nine years. While in Geneva, he set up the Iraqi President's financial network and the organization that helped stash billions of dollars abroad for the Iraqi leader.
US intelligence has no clear information on Saddam Hussein's whereabouts, but
defense and intelligence officials indicate that the Iraqi dictator may lay
dead under a pile of rubble in Baghdad. What is left of the Iraqi regime's top
leadership is believed to be in Tikrit, 100 miles north of Baghdad, the town
that could be the next, and possibly the last, battleground of the war.
In his broadcast reports, General Tommy Franks, commander of US Central Command described the Iraqi leadership as either "dead or running like hell". He also indicated that American forces would remain in Iraq until a free government is in place. "The Saddam regime has ended, and we will stay until there is a free government", In an order to the unit field commanders, Franks also said "We are going to respect their culture and their religion".
The order also listed new rules of behavior for American forces in Baghdad now
that the Iraqi capital is under US control. Under the rules, troops are
forbidden to use deadly force to prevent looting. They should allow government
workers to go to their jobs. Hospitals, businesses and mosques should remain
open. Schools should reopen and record attendance. Police, fire and emergency
workers should continue to report to their jobs unless told otherwise. The
Iraqi public must also not engage in any terrorist acts or display weapons
publicly and should halt looting.
To the west, US Special Forces face tough resistance in maintaining roadblocks around Qaim, the main town on the Syrian border crossing route, to prevent regime members from fleeing Iraq. It is expected that fierce fighting around an industrial complex will end within the next day or two because of intelligence reports that the leaders want to surrender. The unexpected stiff defense has raised speculation that the town may be site for Weapons of Mass Destruction. The majority of the Iraqi surface-to-surface missiles launched in the 1991 Gulf War were launched from the area around Qaim.
While the swamp was being drained in Iraq, the war on terror took a step backward in Yemeni, as 10 of the main suspects in the, 12 October 2000, bombing of the USS Cole, blamed on Usama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, escaped from prison Friday. The fugitives, including chief suspect Jamal al-Badawi, had been jailed in the tightly guarded intelligence building in the port city of Aden since shortly after the destroyer was bombed, killing 17 American sailors. The men were able to flee through a window they smashed inside the building.
After the peaceful hand over of the other northern cities, the hometown of
Saddam Hussein, Tikrit is the next, and last, center of organized resistance
in northern Iraq. The city was the Iraqi President's power base during his
rule and was the source of many members of his inner circle. However, the
Republican Guards and other Iraqi troops regrouping in Tikrit have been
battered by US airstrikes and does not present an effective fighting force and
the possibility that Tikrit, long touted as the logical site for a last stand
by Saddam's loyalists, may fall without much of a fight.
Adding a fresh warring team to the existing forces in Iraq, lead elements of
the US 4th Infantry Division moved into Iraq from Kuwait. The 1st Brigade,
3,000 strong with a battalion of 18 Paladin howitzers, two armored battalions
with 44 Abrams tanks each and two infantry battalions, was the first unit of
the division to move north across the border. All indications of their
destination will be northern Iraq, including Tikrit where senior supporters of
Saddam are preparing a last stand. The town of Bayji, a town about 25 miles to
the north, with garrisons of an estimated few thousand Special Republican
Guard troops, will also be targeted.
American troops remained focused on erasing military threats instead of attempting to curb lawlessness. Searching for weapons, and for holdout bands of pro-Saddam fighters, has been the primary task of many of the American troops in Baghdad. At a nearby junior high school, seven classrooms were filled with hundreds of crates of grenade launchers, surface-to-air missiles and ammunition. Residents said Iraqi soldiers and militiamen had positioned weaponry throughout the neighborhood before US forces moved in.
However, the US and coalition forces indicate that the restoration of law and order will become a higher priority as the State Department dispatched 26 police and judicial officers to Iraq, the first component of a team that will eventually number about 1,200. The officers will be part of a group led by Jay Garner, the retired US General heading ORHA, chosen by the Bush administration to run the initial Iraqi civil administration under American occupation.
Seven Iraqi police officers turned up in response to a US appeal to help restore order and services. They converged on the Palestine Hotel where US officers and journalists are housed after foreign radio stations broadcast a call for qualified people to come forward. The policemen were led by Colonel Ahmad Abdulrazzak Said, who wore his olive green uniform. The six other officers were in civilian dress. The colonel, mustering as much dignity as he -could, indicated that he had come with colleagues to help end the looting which has plagued Baghdad since US forces took control of the capital starting on last Wednesday.
In addition, around 150 civil servants and professionals also showed up, indicating they wanted to help the Americans form an administration and end the chaos. The volunteers were registered at a newly-installed "civil and military operations center" in the hotel's ground floor conference room.
US Marine forces came under heavy automatic fire from six bunkers on the west river bank of the Tigris river in central Baghdad on Saturday evening. In the ensuing firefight, the Marines killed as many as 15 to 20 of the "enemy." In a separate action, one US Marine, guarding a hospital near the Palestine Hotel, was approached by two men posing as hospital landscape workers, one of whom opened fire and killed him. Marines close by shot and killed the man who was found to have a Syrian identification. The 2nd attacker fled.
A contingent force of the Marine 1st Expeditionary Force of "significant-size"
headed north from Baghdad on Saturday to search out and attack Iraqi military
positions that may be an outer perimeter defense of Saddam Hussein's hometown
of Tikrit, one of the last bastions of his collapsing regime.
Hasan arranged for his surrender, leaving his Baghdad villa with his German wife, Helga, and presenting himself to an American warrant officer, who escorted him away. Hasan indicated that he had no information on what happened to Saddam and repeated his assertion, made often in news conferences that Iraq was free of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).
In Basra, documents and captives seized by British troops reveal that Saddam
Hussein had imported hundreds of well-trained Islamic guerrillas, from Muslim
countries including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, before the war to spearhead
his fight against American and British forces. Many posed as students,
enlisting at the university's school of Koranic studies or in its language
school. Airline ticket stubs and other paperwork show there was a rush of new
recruits in early March, and that they were still arriving in Iraq 10 days
before the war began. They came to wage jihad against the Western military,
and provided some of the fiercest resistance as the coalition advanced
northwards. Survivors are still mounting occasional attacks in Baghdad and
The high-profile presence of the American troops and more allied Kurdish fighters in Mosul appeared to bring some measure of calm, but sporadic gunfire and arson blazes continued. The wild plunder of last Friday, however, left deep scars, including some people in tears over the ransacking of clinics and the city's esteemed university by rouge bands.
By nightfall, as day-24 of the war came to a close, US, British and Australian
forces, with the help of Kurdish fighters, controlled all major cities and
instituted control measures to minimize the rioting of the residents which
were being put in place, except President Saddam Hussein's northern hometown
of Tikrit, which will be tested soon.
On Palm Sunday, 13 April (Day-25), following a continuous series of bombings,
US Marines entered Saddam Hussein's hometown and power base Sunday and clashed
with some final vestiges of Iraqi resistance, backed by Cobra attack
helicopters and F-18 aircraft and artillery assaults aimed at overwhelming any
plans for a furious last stand. US forces suspected about 2,500 die-hards of
the Republican Guard and the paramilitary Fedayeen, and possibly officials
from Saddam's regime, were holed up in Tikrit. As the Iraqi infantry came out
of their holes to fight the Marines in their light armored vehicles, about 15
Iraqis died in that exchange - no Americans were lost in the engagement. As
they got closer to the city, they were approached by fifteen tribal leaders,
identified as being from Tikrit. They asked for an end to the US bombardment
so a peaceful surrender of pro-Saddam militia there to could be negotiated
with the defenders.
The Defense Department will not release the names of those rescued until their
families have been notified, but two were identified in a press pool
photograph caption as the two Apache helicopter pilots from the 1st Battalion,
227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, Chief Warrant Officer David S.
Williams, 30, of Orlando, FL and Chief Warrant Officer Ronald D. Young Jr.,
26, of Lithia Springs, GA, who had made an emergency landing due to a
mechanical failure and were captured 24 March during heavy fighting with the
2nd Armored Brigade, Medina Division, Iraqi Republican Guard.
Hasan's main value to the coalition is that he may, through his previous ties, may know where Saddam's vast fortunes are hidden. He appears as the Five of Spades in the set of playing cards issued by the US military authorities to help capture the most wanted leaders of Saddam's former regime and is No. 37 on the revised list of the 55. Sunday's capture was the 2nd fugitive of the most wanted list to be placed in US custody.
Further west, the first US armor rumbled into central Kirkuk on Sunday as the military increased its presence in the strategic oil hub of northern Iraq, to reassure Turkey it would not be run by local Kurds. Life had already began to return to normal in many quarters, with shops opening and traffic flowing. Tankers distributed water while electricians worked to repair power and telephone cables damaged by US bombing and the looting that ensued.
In southern Iraq, Kuwaiti firefighters put out the last oil well fire at
al-Rumeila field on Sunday. A US team from Halliburton and their
subcontractor, Boots & Coots International Well Control Inc., who were brought
in by the American government, put out two well fires in al-Rumeila. Fires at
seven other wells, sabotaged by Iraqis at the outset of the current war,
burned themselves out. In all coalition forces have secured all 1,000 wells in
the oil fields of southern Iraq.
Now that the major ground battles are over and the focus is shifting to
stabilizing the country, the US military is beginning to reduce battlefield
capabilities the Iraq and middle east war zones. The Air Force already has
sent four B-2 stealth bombers back home to Whiteman Air Force Base, MO. They
had been flying missions over Iraq from the Indian Ocean island of Diego
Garcia and from Fairford air base in Britain. The air campaign is far from
over, but its focus has shifted away from heavy bombing toward protective air
cover for ground troops as surveillance and reconnaissance missions by U-2 spy
planes, unmanned Predator drones and other aircraft are continuing at a high
In anticipation of meeting an estimated 2,500 die-hards of the Republican Guard and the paramilitary Fedayeen, and possibly officials from the Iraqi president's regime that were holed up in the city, the invading US forces had created checkpoints to prevent possible regime leaders from escaping. to the south and west of the city. The fighting on the ground was fierce, however the assaults did not encounter the intense battle that once seemed likely.inasmuch as there was "no organized resistance" in Tikrit.
The presidential palace was seized without a fight, the military said, and a
large number of heavily armed troops were visible in the central Tikrit in
the afternoon. Tanks and Humvees rumbled through, and a line of armored
vehicles was parked in front of a bazaar. Currently, there is no information
on casualties but that US forces had defeated the Iraqis in every engagement
The securing of Tikrit represents the last major site targeted by the military
in its conquest of Iraq. However they do admit that there are small areas of
the Iraqi country that need to be visited and visible presence of control must
be established. Several pockets of foreign fighters and Iraqi paramilitary do
exist and these will be a focus of attention along with the restoration of a
presence of law and order in the major cities over the next few days.
Mohamme Abu Abbas had been previously convicted and sentenced in Italy to five life terms in prison, and is wanted in the United States in connection with the cruise ship hijacking. He has spent most of the past 17 years in Iraq, beyond the reach of US and Italian officials. There were earlier reports, in January, that Abbas was in Egypt to take part in talks to end Palestinian attacks on civilians in Israel, but Egyptian authorities denied he had ever been in the country.
The Department of Defense reported that Iraqi fighters have not mounted "a
coherent defense" and major combat operations in Iraq is essentially over. It
will move into a phase that entails smaller, but sharp fights. In support of
the statement it also announced that two US Navy aircraft carriers and the
ships in their battle groups will leave the Persian Gulf this week and return
to their home ports. The Kitty Hawk will return to its base at Yokosuka,
Japan, and the Constellation will return to San Diego, CA. as the US military
begins a draw down of the forces it deployed for the war in Iraq.
That will leave a single carrier in the Gulf, the USS Nimitz, which last week replaced the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. Two other carriers remain in the eastern Mediterranean, the USS Theodore Roosevelt and the USS Harry Truman. However plans are being made to send one of those home soon.
The Air Force also has already begun ordering units home. They have sent four B-2 stealth bombers back home to Whiteman Air Force Base, MO. They were flying missions over Iraq from the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia and from Fairford air base in Britain. Other B-2s flew roundtrip missions from Whiteman. Six of the F-117 stealth fighters have returned to their home base 49th Fighter Wing at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico and the remaining F-117 jets are expected to return within days as well the F-15Cs who will return to their Kadena Air Base in Okinawa,
The Army continues its build up in the Gulf region. The 1st Armored Division
is sending two armored brigades and one aviation brigade from bases in
Germany, and one brigade is going from its base at Fort Riley, KS. The
Division began moving its equipment to ports for shipment to the Gulf region,
and its troops will follow by air in a couple of weeks.
Hundreds of men, women and children lined the access road to the main highway inside Iraq, and running up to the vehicles. One little girl in a blue frock yelled out "Americans" and smiled and waved, while another with a white dress and black head scarf alternated between giving "thumbs up" signs and blowing kisses. With the last vestiges of Iraqi resistance crumbling in the northern city of Tikrit, it was not clear whether the 4th Infantry Division will see any combat action or take more of a stabilization role.
One of the secondary objectives of the war with Iraq was to preserve the Oil resources so that its revenues could be used in a benefitual manner to help the its citizens. Iraq has the world's second-largest proven crude reserves, at 112 billion barrels. But its pipelines, pumping stations and oil reservoirs have suffered for years from a lack of funding to maintenance the resources in a productive state. The regime utilized its resources to build grandiose palaces and build up an Army which would protect the ruling party. Now the Iraqi can add sabotage to its list of problems.
Though early surveys suggest the northern oil fields appear undamaged, much of the support equipment in the area, from offices to computer data to heavy machinery, has been sabotaged or looted.Inside the Northern Oil Co. offices in the Baba oil fields, the air was smoky Monday, four days after someone looted the place as Saddam's forces quit Kirkuk Local engineers said the wells were largely untouched, but production cannot begin until damaged equipment is replaced. The United States indicated that it had entered into an independent contractor, Halliburton, to determine just what needs to be done.
On Tuesday, 15 April (Day-27), the commander of 6,000 Iraqi army troops who controlled the vast area of the western desert of Iraq along the Syrian border formally surrendered to US forces, marking another dramatic step toward the end of the Iraq war. The surrender came as the US led coalition focuses growing attention on Syria, which Washington and London allege is hiding chemical weapons and had been cooperating extensively with the now-toppled regime of Saddam Hussein.
General Mohammed Jarawi, in full military uniform with black beret, stood silently with his number two, Brigadier Ahmad Sadeq, as US Colonel Curtis Potts, commander of the 4th Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division accepted the papers and handed them to his assistants, to be passed up later in the day to the highest levels of US command.
After inking the formal surrender agreement document under a broiling sun at a remote outpost in the western Iraqi desert, General Mohammed Jarawi said, "I am ready to help. Thank you for liberating Iraq and making it stable. I hope we have a very good friendship with the United States. Now is the time to rebuild Iraq and turn over the country to the Iraqi people,"
Jarawi headed the Anbar section command, Iraqi forces who under Saddam Hussein's rule had control over the sweeping western Anbar province extending all the way to the Syrian border and down along the frontier with Saudi Arabia.
After gaining control of Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, American forces are circling back to cities they bypassed on their rush to reach Baghdad and beyond. They will snuff out any remnants of the Iraqi president's Republican Guard or other Iraqi forces and take a closer look at clues to the whereabouts of four missing US service members, prisoners of war from the 1991 war and hidden missiles or other illegal weapons.
Fighting has ended in Qaim, a western town near the Syrian border where Iraqi holdouts had been battling US forces for about a week. American troops are still negotiating with local leaders for control of the town, discussing issues such as whether and when a curfew would be imposed and what forces would police the town.
Victory has yet to be declared, but the rush for Iraqi gold is on. They couldn't prevent the war, but that hasn't stopped the "Non-Nyet-Nein" coalition of France, Russia and Germany from staking their individual claims to a role in shaping, and profiting from, the new Iraq. Even before the fighting stopped, the three European powers were moving to build bridges to the United States and Britain to ensure their companies get a share in rebuilding the infrastructure in Iraq.
France says it wants to be pragmatic, Germany says it is an honest broker because it has no economic interests in Iraq, and Russia says it will consider Washington's call to forgive some $8 billion in Soviet era debt.
All three have sounded conciliatory in the past week, while saying they want to see the United Nations play the lead role in post-war reconstruction - a tactic widely seen as an effort to avoid being locked out of business deals by the United States. Their fears are understandable, especially after the US House of Representatives presented a measure, last week, to bar French, Russian and German companies from participating in rebuilding the infrastructure or oil resources in Iraq.
Wary of lingering threats posed by foreign fighters, Coalition Forces
intensified the search for Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and prisoners of
war. As they worked to restore calm in Iraq's cities, representatives from
some of Iraq's often-quarrelsome factions met in the biblical birthplace of
the prophet Abraham to begin shaping the country's postwar government. The
meeting took place at Tallil Airbase, close to the 4,000 year old ziggurat at
Ur, a terraced-pyramid temple of the ancient Assyrians and Babylonians.
Many Iraqis said they would boycott the meeting and opposed US plans to install Jay Garner, the retired US General heading ORHA, as head of an interim administration. A national conference is planned ultimately to select the interim Iraqi government, perhaps within weeks.The US led interim administration could begin handing power back to Iraqi officials within three to six months, but forming a government will take longer. Garner's Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance is charged with coordinating humanitarian assistance, rebuilding infrastructure shattered by years of war and UN sanctions, and gradually handing back power to Iraqis leading a democratically elected government.
Thousands of Shiite Muslims whose representatives were boycotting the meeting demonstrated in nearby Nasiriyah against the gathering because of concerns that the Unites States will establish their own form of government.
During the session, White House envoy Zalmay Khalilzad strongly indicated to the delegates that the United States has "no interest, absolutely no interest, in ruling Iraq". Following that statement, the delegates concluded that they would be in agreement and would meet again in 10 days. They summarized the meeting in 13 points.
The Mideast pot is beginning to boil as the US Government begins to utilize information gleaned from captured Iraqi documents. Top US officials have accused Syria of giving sanctuary to fleeing Iraqi officials and of assisting Saddam Hussein in his failed efforts to defend Iraq against the US led invasion.
Amid mounting accusations that Damascus, the capital of Syria, is harboring members of Saddam Hussein's Iraqi government, information indicating that former Iraqi spy chief Farouk Hijazi is believed to be in Syria. Hijazi was director of external operations for the Iraqi intelligence agency Mukhabarat in the mid-1990s, when the agency allegedly launched a failed attempt to assassinate President George H. Bush during a visit to Kuwait.
As an alternate to direct confrontation with Syria, indirect economic pressure is being applied to fracture their already weak economy. US military engineers have reported that they have already shut down the pipeline used for illegal export of oil shipments from Iraq to Syria. The pipeline opened in 2000 and was believed to have handled about $1.2 billion worth of oil a year shipped in violation of the United Nations sanctions against Iraq.
In other Mideast areas, another compounding factor is the escape of the key terrorist prisoners from the secure Yemeni jail. The investigation continues to determine the degree of inside help that may have been provided. In Lebanon, the prime minister resigned but is expected to head a new government, handpicked to be more friendly to neighboring Syria, strengthening their posture to the US.
In the Gulf Arab states, the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) - a
political, economic and military alliance of six nations of Saudi Arabia, the
United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman, which together own
nearly half the world's oil reserves wants the US led forces to leave Iraq as
soon as possible and hand over control of the country to its people. Their
major concern is that the longer the US stays around, their own governmental
power base weakens. On Tuesday, they rejected the US accusations that Syria
was developing chemical weapons and sheltering Iraqi leaders, and said the US
led occupation of Iraq should end quickly.
The computer system network, known as Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below, works as a battlefield Internet that keeps track of forces engaged in fast-moving combat tactical situations. The system's global positioning satellite navigation system also warns whenever a vehicle strays from its preprogrammed planned ground path.
Prior to engagement with enemy forces, elements of the 1st Brigade, 4th
Infantry Division had pushed through Baghdad overnight and set up near Taji
Airbase north of the capital after 40 straight hours on the road from
southern Iraq. Before entering the base, they had blew up a truck, three
anti-aircraft guns and two surface-to-air missile systems along the road to
render them useless and to get rid of the "pre-game jitters".
A follow-up force of some 20 tanks and 35 personnel carriers of the 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division of Ft. Carson, CO, occupied the base, going building to building to make sure they were all clear. They pulled down a golden statue of Saddam Hussein at the front gate. As of midday, the Division had destroyed a truck, three anti-aircraft guns and two FROG-7 missile systems and launchers near the airfield. In the early assessment of the action, the network provided a level of situational awareness that was second to none, as soldiers of 1st Brigade took control of the Taji Airbase, killing four combatants and taking at least two dozen Enemy Prisoners of War (EPR). There were no American casualties.
In other action, US Special Forces, backed by 40 Marines, raided the Baghdad residence of the microbiologist Rahib Taha. Nicknamed "Dr. Germ" by United Nation's weapons inspectors, she ran Iraq's secret biological laboratory that is suspected of weaponizing anthrax. During the raid, three men emerged with their hands up. Searches yielded several boxes of documentation that were removed for study and review later. Taha's whereabouts was not immediately determined.
The Marines also found an abandoned terrorist training camp, on the outskirts
of Baghdad, where recruits had been taught how to make bombs. the terrorist
training camp in the outskirts of Baghdad consisted of about 20 permanent
buildings and had been operated jointly by the Iraqi regime and the Palestine
Liberation Front. The camp included an obstacle course and what appeared to be
a prison, to teach terrorists what to do if captured and interrogated.
Ongoing reviews of intelligence regarding the threat of to the decision to
lower the alert level to mid-range on the five-tier danger scale. The threat
level had been raised to orange, meaning a "high" risk of terrorist attacks
from several quarters: al-Qaida, Iraqi operatives and freelance terrorists, on
17 March, days before the war began. The new lower level signifies an
Pentagon officials are concerned that the looting and destruction of Iraqi government documents and other clues could destroy evidence related to the search for Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). In addition to original warfare tasks of combat and force protection, finding and eliminating the chemical and biological weapons manufactured by Saddam Hussein's defunct regime is now a top priority of the US led military forces in Iraq. To do so, the troops must find the documents and experts that can tell them where the banned materials are located. As political pressure continues to build to find the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) cited as a key justification for the war, the United States has enlisted a number of former UN weapons inspectors to help search for nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) arms in Iraq.
In addition, US and coalition forces also have a major task in establishing
an effective method of border control to prevent Iraqi nuclear, biological and
chemical (NBC) weapons experts from fleeing the country.Some Iraqi officials
trying to leave Iraq through Syria, for example, are believed to be those with
ties to weapons programs.
Barzan Hasan, like his brother Watban, is seen as a significant catch because of the likelihood he could provide information on Saddam's suspected weapons of mass destruction program, one of the major reasons the United States and Great Britain launched the war. Barzan Hasan appears as the Five of Clubs in the set of playing cards issued by the US military authorities to help capture the most wanted leaders of Saddam's former regime and is No. 38 on the revised list of the 55. Thursday's surrender was the 3rd fugitive of the most wanted list to be placed in US custody.
The third half-brother, Sabawi Ibrahim Hassan, has taken refuge in Damascus, Syria. He appears as the Six of Diamonds in the set of playing cards issued by the US military authorities to help capture the most wanted leaders of Saddam's former regime and is No. 36 on the revised list of the 55.
On Thursday, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded the Bechtel Corporation, a California based engineering and construction company, a contract for rebuilding Iraq's power, water and sewage systems and repairing airports and a seaport. The USAID indicated that the San Francisco engineering and construction company initially will receive $34.6 million for the initial development phase of repair and rehabilitation or reconstruction of Iraq's power generation facilities, electrical grids, municipal water systems and sewage systems, many of which have fallen into disrepair under 12 years of United Nation sanctions or were damaged during US bombing raids.
In addition to the current scope of Bechtel's work on utility systems, the
contract also provides for a role in repair and reconstruction of hospitals,
schools, selected government ministry buildings, irrigation facilities,
transportation links, rehabilitation or repair of airport facilities and
dredging, repair and upgrading of the Umm Qasr seaport in cooperation with
other contractors which could increase the value to an amount over $680
million over 18 months, if Congress approves the funds.
Al-Najim, a Sunni Arab, was a member of the Baath party's Regional Command,
the top decision-body in the party. He was Iraqi Oil Minister until earlier
this year and was Saddam's chief of staff for several years after the 1991
Gulf War. He had previous assignments as ambassador to Egypt, Turkey, Spain
and Moscow and was a top insider of Saddam's regime.
In the firefight, one US officer was injured and five Iraqis were taken prisoner. In addition to six MIG fighter jets, found concealed under camouflage, hundreds of AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades were found, and five anti-aircraft guns destroyed. The paramilitary forces had been using the airfield as an ordnance storage facility, taking weapons and ammunitions to other points in attempts to spread disorder throughout the countryside.
Today, American forces released more than 900 Iraqi prisoners, beginning the process of sorting through the thousands detained in the month-old war. Those released were determined to be noncombatants, meaning they did not engage in hostile acts during the war and were not part of a military force.
For instance, they may have been civilians caught up in the fighting and was one of those taken from the battlefield who was a security risk or who may be in harm's way. British coalition forces already had released 877 prisoners they were holding at a separate location. Taking the releases announced today, coalition forces still hold 6,850 prisoners in custody.
While some of the Iraqi POWs could be charged with committing war crimes or
other offenses, the Pentagon is trying to determine whether other
classifications of military prisoners could simply be set free without waiting
for an interim Iraqi government to be formed.
Troops found instruction manuals and other training materials on Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) weapons, but that it wasn't stated whether the material instructed soldiers how to use such agents, or how to protect against them. Bunkers capable of withstanding Nuclear, Biological and Chemical attack (NBC) also were also found at the complex.
It was not immediately known if any of the equipment discovered had been
supplied to Iraq in violation of the United Nations weapons embargo.
Australian forces have not determined how many of the aircraft are in flying
condition, but in any case, it would be up to the new government of Iraq to
decide what to do with the jets.
Hikmat Mizban Ibrahim al-Azzawi, who also served as a deputy prime minister, was captured the same day that one of Saddam's top scientists, depicted as the mastermind of Iraq's nerve agent program, turned himself in to the Americans.
On Saturday, 19 April (Day-31), at about 0300 hours (local), the Army took control of civil administration of post-war Iraq from the Marines, inheriting a daunting task plagued by confusion and public animosity towards the US occupation. Elements of the 4th Infantry Division and the 101st Airborne, in anticipation of the change over, had also moved into the capital.
By first light, the heavy Marine presence had completely vanished from Baghdad's streets and was replaced by small numbers of soldiers from the Army's 3rd Infantry Division and 4th Infantry Division who will share the task of rebuilding the city's infrastructure and keeping order. The army is traditionally responsible for civil affairs issues such as rebuilding security and water and electricity systems and a 30,000-strong task force from the 4th Infantry is currently flowing into Iraq from Kuwait.
The forces will also have to take on their task, amid growing hostility to their presence from locals and the remnants of Saddam Hussein's die-hard Fedayeen militia and suicide bombers, who have claimed the lives of eight US soldiers in three blasts since the war began on March 20.
In other deployments, the Army's 1st Armored Division will begin moving into
Iraq within the next few weeks, allowing troops from the 3rd Infantry Division
and the 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions, among the first wave of US ground
troops in Iraq, to start leaving Iraq as early as June.
A nine-member team of doctors, psychiatrists and a chaplain were accompanying
the seven on their trans-Atlantic flight, which was expected to last about 13
hours. The former POWs are to fly to Ft. Bliss in Texas, where five of them
are stationed with the US Army's 507th Maintenance Company. The two other,
Apache helicopter crewmen, with the 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Cavalry
Division, will then continue to their home base at Ft. Hood, Texas. The plane,
which took off at 1455 hours (local), will be refueled in mid-air to avoid
requiring an additional stop.
The United States, along with Iran and the European Union, considers the
People's Mujahedeen a terrorist organization. The group has frequently claimed
responsibility for attacks and assassinations inside Iran but says it only
targets the military and other elements of the clerical regime. Coalition
forces in Iraq are currently trying to arrange the surrender of the People's
Mujahedeen, whose camps have been targeted by coalition airstrikes over the
last six days.
Umm Qasr's deep-water port became a military objective because it was seen as
the best entry route for relief supplies into southern Iraq. With a railroad
line now in operation, supplies can be easily funneled into the key southern
city of Basra, the country's second largest, and the surrounding region. The
first major trainload of medical supplies and water will head to Basra next
week. For Umm Qasr's 45,000 residents, the revived rail line was also the
latest signal of a return to self-sufficiency. Working with British forces,
residents have already managed to restore water, electricity and a phone
The seven former US Prisoners Of War were flown home, with the first stop being at Ft. Bliss, TX, to a crowd of flag-waving family and friends, one week after they were rescued in Iraq. Thousands of well-wishers hoisted flags and burst into cheers as the C-17 transport plane landed on a wind-swept runway. Two servicemen poked their heads through a hatch on top of the plane, holding an American flag and waving to the crowd as the plane taxied along the tarmac.
Friends and family gathered under the tail of the plane with open arms as the soldiers exited. After a private reception and dinner of submarine sandwiches, cookies and pink lemonade, the five Ft. Bliss soldiers were to spend the night at the post to undergo evaluation by doctors from nearby William Beaumont Army Medical Center, Ft. Bliss.
Five of the seven former POWs are stationed with the US Army's 507th Maintenance Company, located at Ft. Bliss, TX. The five Ft. Bliss soldiers, Specialist Joseph Hudson, 23, Alamogordo, NM; Specialist Shoshana Johnson, 30, El Paso; TX; Specialist Edgar Hernandez, 21, Mission, TX; Private First Class Patrick Miller, 23, Park City, KS, and Sergeant James Riley, 31, Pennsauken, NJ, were captured and nine comrades were killed in an attack near Nasiriyah, Iraq. Another member of the 507th, Private First Class Jessica Lynch, was rescued separately in a daring commando raid and, after being returned to the United States, continues to recuperate at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC.
The two other former POWs, Apache helicopter crewmen, are stationed with the
227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, located at Ft. Hood, TX.
After the reception at Ft. Bliss, TX, Chief Warrant Officer David S. Williams,
30, of Orlando, FL., and Chief Warrant Officer Ronald D. Young Jr., 26, of
Lithia Springs, GA, were flown to Ft. Hood, TX. Upon landing, they were
escorted down a red carpet and were met with chants of "Hoo-ah!" from their
comrades and to a swarm of overjoyed friends and relatives who exchanged hugs,
tears and handshakes with them. The crowd cheered and clapped amid the tumult
of a brass band's military tune of "Garryowen".
The mood was also subdued among the hundreds of people who crammed into the small St Paul's church in the northern city of Mosul, where relations are tense between local Arabs and Kurds residents.
While Christians prayed, tens of thousands of Shiite Muslims, Iraq's majority
population, beat their chests as they streamed toward the holy central city of
Kerbala, in a pilgrimage banned by Saddam for nearly a quarter of a century.
Dozens of tents were set up along the 75 kilometer (50 miles) route where
Shiite groups scooped up water from oil drums and handed it to pilgrims to
sustain them on their tough walk. The pilgrimage reaches its climax on
There were some negotiations until he was persuaded to come to Baghdad and
surrender in Baghdad. Al-Tikriti was being questioned by intelligence officers
of the Free Iraqi Forces and would be turned over to the US military "in a
matter of hours, not days". Al-Tikriti is in his mid-30s and there is no
information about the whereabouts of the daughter.
No details on how he was captured was given by officers of the Central Command who have expressed confidence that now that the war is virtually over, they are receiving an increasing number of tip-offs on the whereabouts of top officials of Saddam's now ousted regime.
As the dust settles on post-Saddam Iraq and reveals a new security landscape in the Gulf, a key question for the United States is whether it should maintain or withdraw its forces in Saudi Arabia. The 12-year-old Operation Southern Watch, the centerpiece of the US military presence in Saudi Arabia, became an overnight anachronism. But with no hostile border to guard and no no-fly zone over southern Iraq to patrol, the US air forces in Saudi Arabia no longer have a clearly defined mission. Indeed, the most compelling rationale for keeping US troops in Saudi Arabia, the threat posed by a belligerent Iraq, was swept away last week in the thundering collapse of the regime of Saddam Hussein.
Even before the war, the Saudi royal family was uneasy about a fundamentalist
backlash in the kingdom and let it be known through leaks to the New York
Times that it expected US forces to leave once the fighting was over. US air
forces still plan use Saudi Arabia's Prince Sultan Air Base (PSAB), a
two-year-old command center, to fly missions in support of US forces in Iraq
where there is still sporadic combat.
Jay Garner, said his priority was to restore basic services such as water and electricity "as soon as we can", and acknowledged that the job would take intense work. Garner said he aimed to get the job done and leave as soon as possible, but declined to give a time frame. When asked, his response was "We will be here as long as it takes. We will leave fairly rapidly".
The government is sending more than 1,000 experts specializing in weapons, intelligence and computers to augment the existing Mobile Exploitation Team (MET) that was set up to hunt for illegal Weapons of Mass Destruction. They will join in with some 200 experts already looking for evidence in Iraq for Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), analyzing documents, interrogating prisoners and scouring suspicious sites which will lead to the proof that fallen President Saddam Hussein had Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) weapons programs. The additions to the search team, expected to be sent as soon as safety allows, would speed up a process that hasn't moved as quickly as anticipated.
The slow methodical search for Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) may beginning to pay off. The Mobile Exploitation Team (MET), set up to hunt for illegal Weapons of Mass Destruction interviewed an Iraqi scientist who claims to have worked in Saddam Hussein's chemical weapons program that Iraq destroyed and buried chemical weapons and biological warfare equipment only days before the war began March 20.
Military officials said the scientist told them that several months before the war, he watched as Iraqi officials buried chemical precursors for weapons and other sensitive material to conceal and protect them for future use. Four days before President George W. Bush gave Saddam an ultimatum in March, the scientist indicated that Iraqi officials set fire to a warehouse where biological weapons research was conducted.
The Iraqi scientist, who was not named for fear he might be harmed, also said Iraq has secretly sent stockpiles of deadly agents and weapons technology to Syria in the mid-1990s, and more recently was cooperating with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network. The report on these details was held by military censors for three days, and some details about the chemicals were not allowed to be published.
The hunt is expected to gain speed because of increasing tips from Iraqis as well. The Iraqi people are emerging from the shadow of Saddam's tyranny to help coalition forces find death squads, uncover weapons caches, capture regime leaders, recover POWs, and restore order and basic services. That discovery south of Baghdad was made several days ago with the help of an Iraqi scientist who claimed to have worked in Saddam's chemical weapons program.
Outside of Iraq, the search for the whereabouts of Al Qaed members goes on at a fast pace. Today, the most recent status of the major al-Qaeda members on the "most wanted list" was released.
In another investigation, interviews with Mohammad Moshan Mohammad, manager and grave digger at the Al-Qarah cemetery located about 30 kilometers (18 miles) from central Baghdad He indicated that nearly 1,000 political prisoners lie buried in secret graves at a cemetery on the western outskirts of Baghdad. Ten to fifteen bodies would arrive at a time from the Abu Ghraib prison for burial.
There are no names at the grave sites which occupies three acres of land which
is fenced off by a two meter (six feet) high wall. Most graves are marked with
a steel stake and a piece of rusting tin bearing a number. It was reported
that another five cemeteries in Baghdad with secret grave sites tat could
contain as many as an additional 5,000 (political) corpses.
The 3rd Commando Brigade was in the thick of the war at the outset. Eight
members died in an American helicopter crash in the first hours. Other units
roared over mud flats in the Faw Peninsula with squat, black hovercraft and
employed grappling hooks to tear down obstacles of barbed wire and steel
girders.The noisy, low-slung craft moved so fast over the marshland that when
they triggered mines, they had usually passed over them before the devices
exploded. The commandos destroyed an Iraqi brigade and caused others,
demoralized at the prospect of defeat, surrender or just disappear.
A nurse by training and former member of Iraq's ruling Revolutionary Command Council and regional commander of the central Euphrates district. Al-Zubaydi appears as the Queen of Spades in the set of playing cards issued by the US military authorities to help capture the most wanted leaders of Saddam's former regime and is No. 9 on the revised list of the 55. Monday's capture was the 8th fugitive of the most wanted list to be placed in US custody.
Iraqi opposition groups have accused Al-Zubaydi of the 1999 assassination of top Shiite cleric. Al-Zubaydi has been an associate of Saddam since the early 1960s and had been retired from a public role in the leadership for about two years.
An Iranian dissident militia group, the Mujahedeen Khalq, that has carried out
attacks into Iran from its bases in Iraq has agreed to a cease-fire and has
begun moving its vehicles into US controlled assembly areas. The move by the
Mujahedeen Khalq came after the US military bombed the militia's bases and
advised them to negotiate a reasonable set of surrender terms for its members
who have been fighting the Tehran government from Iraq for 17 years.
In a preliminary analysis of the human costs of actions of invading Iraq, US forces kept casualties low in the war to oust the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Thanks to a tactical plan that relied on focused use of air power and minimized urban combat to defeat an overmatched enemy. To date, 128 US troops have been killed in the war, which has been going on a month and still brings sporadic clashes, with 495 wounded in action. as compared to the 1991 Gulf War, 148 US troops were killed and a further 467 wounded.
Invading and securing an entire country with such a low level of casualties, is extraordinary. One of the reasons for the minimum number of casualties was the absolute mismatch" between a well-equipped, well-trained and technologically advanced US military force against a decrepit Iraqi force. In a rough comparison of spending levels, the United States spends $400 billion a year on defense going against a country that spends $1 billion. International sanctions may have also hampered the ability of Iraq to modernize and rearm.
It is estimated that 15,000 to 20,000 Iraqi troops were killed in the war, with an additional 10,000 to 15,000 wounded. There are no comparative official figures for Iraqi troops killed in combat in 1991, but there are estimates that could easily support casualties as high as 100,000. It has been suggested that the lower Iraqi casualties is due to the fleeing and abandonment of engagement when faced with a superior attacking force.
Thousands of US soldiers poured into central Mosul in tanks and armed trucks on Tuesday, 22 April (Day-34), in a show of force aimed at intimidating heavily armed rival factions and taking control of the ethnically, divided Iraqi city. The brigade reinforces Special Forces and Marine units that had been struggling to restore order after the collapse of Saddam's regime touched off looting, arson and gunfire. Helicopters shuttled up to 5,000 troops of the 101st Airborne Division from the outskirts of Baghdad to Mosul's airport, and then armed trucks ferried them into Iraq's third largest city, with an estimated population of 1.7 million.
Tank units of the army's Fourth Infantry Division also rumbled into the
violence-plagued city, passing grand mosques and bombed-out buildings, as well
as negotiating their way round bustling street markets, as attack helicopters
hovered overhead. Sporadic heavy gunfire echoed along the banks of the Tigris
River in the city center but there no reports of clashes between US Army
forces and local militia groups despite a series of gunfights with Marines in
Top priorities for the US military in Iraq is establishing a firm basis for civil control, searching for Weapons of Mass Destruction and former Iraqi officials, as well as setting the conditions for a new Iraqi government to come to power. Today the military's role not as "nation building" but as helping in the transition from the overthrown government to a new one, in doing so they must create an environment that's sufficiently secure and hospitable to that kind of a change, but doing it without doing it in a manner that creates a dependency.
Such work is called "Phase IV" or stability operations in military parlance.
Much of the work will be done by the same troops that fought the war. Other
units called "civil affairs" forces specialize in these operations, and some
accompanied the combat troops into battle. They are under the same military
chain of command but specially trained and equipped to get food, water,
shelter and medical care to needy populations and keep local rivalries from
flaring into more violence. US Coalition Forces will also be active in the
Phase IV efforts. Italy is sending 300 police, while the Czech Republic,
Spain, Lithuanian and Jordan are providing medical aid.
The southern oil fields had been among the first installations secured when US and British Forces launched the ground war. Today, Coalition Forces, with the help of Iraqi oil workers, fired up a Gas-Oil Separation Plant (GOSP) that sent oil to a pumping station and storage tank at the Rumeila oil fields, near the southern city of Basra. The focus in restoring the oil is to give the biggest benefit to the Iraqi people in the shortest amount of time.
The southern Rumeila oil field, one of Iraq's largest, could be producing up to 1.1 million barrels a day in six to fifteen weeks. Northern oil fields around Kirkuk remain out of production; when they are reopened, Iraq could move toward its prewar production of 2.8 million barrels a day, and provide crucial revenue for reconstruction.
Many Iraqis have complained bitterly, and frequently, about US forces rushing to secure oil fields and the capital's oil ministry, leaving other ministries, universities, museums, hospitals and businesses to be looted and burned. US officials have acknowledged they were surprised by the rampage, and said troops were too occupied by combat to intervene when they first reached Baghdad.
In Baghdad, power was restored to about one-fifth of the city for the first time in three weeks. Baghdad residents and the US military have listed power as the capital's key need, to deter looting and help get a municipal administration back in operation.
In the holy cities of Karbala and Najaf, Wednesday was the climax of an
emotional pilgrimage, peaceful so far, that has drawn an estimated 1 million
Shiites. With Saddam Hussein's regime toppled, it was the first time since the
1970s that Iraq's Shiite majority could participate freely in the march
mourning the martyred grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.
Some of the cash has been stumbled upon almost by accident, while the intensive nationwide search by US teams for banned Weapons of Mass Destruction has yet to turn up conclusive evidence of chemical or biological weapons. Six Iraqi scientists working at Baghdad research institutions that they were ordered to destroy some bacteria and equipment and hide more in their homes before visits from UN weapons inspectors in the months leading up to the war.
All the scientists said they were involved in civilian research projects and
all said they knew of no programs for weapons of mass destruction. It was not
clear why their materials, if for nonmilitary research, were ordered
destroyed. Their accounts indicate Saddam's regime may have had advance
knowledge of at least some of the inspectors' visits, as the United States
has suspected, and that the regime was concerned about any material that
could raise the suspicion of UN experts.
Al-Tikriti, who was from Saddam's hometown clan which made up much of the
former Iraqi inner circle, also reportedly helped train the paramilitary
Fedayeen Saddam forces. US officials have accused Fedayeen forces of
committing war crimes including using civilians as human shields and killing
Iraqis who wanted to surrender.
Naqib's position was equivalent to the head of the US Defense Intelligence Agency. He appears as the Seven of Hearts in the set of playing cards issued by the US military authorities to help capture the most wanted leaders of Saddam's former regime and is No. 31 on the revised list of the 55. Wednesday's capture was the 10th fugitive of the most wanted list to be placed in US custody.
He was a professional soldier who rose through the ranks of the Iraqi army, US officials said. The military intelligence directorate he headed was separate from the Iraqi Mukhabarat, which gathered strategic intelligence and conducted covert operations aimed at maintaining government authority.
The 56-year-old Naqib indicated that he had no apologies for his involvement
in Saddam's government. He also made it clear that he had not always agreed
with the Iraqi leader. However, he had shared Saddam's Pan-Arabist ideas and
had hope that Iraq and its military could be the force for creating an Arab
Also on Wednesday, allied special operations troops captured a Mukhabarat
officer, Salim Said Khalaf al-Jumayli, formerly in charge of American
operations. Al-Jumayli is suspected of having knowledge of Iraqi intelligence
activities in the United States, including names of people spying for Iraq. He
was not among the 55 most wanted leaders. In the capture of Al-Jumayli, No
details were given about how Al-Jumayli was captured but, during the
operation, there was one Iraqi casualty and no Americans suffered
Iraqis who took part in the meeting, which lasted about an hour, said they had pressed Jay Garner, the retired US General heading ORHA, to restore essential services and law and order as quickly as possible to the battered capital. Jay Garner reported that some Iraqi government ministries were on the verge of reopening and Initially, experts from the United States and other countries will work jointly with Iraqis, then when Iraqis themselves are ready to accept the management, it will be turned over to them. In addition, he indicated "It is very important that people start back to work, especially those in public service."
Jay Garner indicated that the purpose of the US military, now, is to create an
environment for Iraqis so that they can begin a process of building a
government that leads to a democratic form. It was also emphasized that none
of those individuals invited to the talks were not being endorsed by the US
for leadership positions.
The US Central Command can not (or perhaps, will not) confirm their legal status. The plan is for those individuals, where there is evidence to support they have committed war crimes against US persons, they will be tried by US authorities. For those offenses or crimes committed against Iraqis or people from third countries, they will be dealt with separately by the Iraqis or the third country. To date, no one has been formally charged.
The United States intends for Saddam Hussein, if caught, to be tried along
with other officials, by Iraqi courts for crimes against Iraqis, and by third
countries if the victims are in third countries, Kuwait, for example. The
distinction between crimes against Americans and against Iraqis was
established this month by Pierre Richard Prosper, the US envoy for war crimes
issues. The United States is working with exiled Iraqi jurists to formulate a
new judicial process to handle the former Saddam regime officials.
He was born in Tell Kaif, Iraq, in 1936, a circumstance that denied him the most powerful positions in Saddam's governments, which were reserved for members of the Iraqi leader's Tikriti clan. He was the only Christian in Saddam's inner circle; born Mikhail Yuhanna to a Chaldean Catholic family, he later changed his name to Tariq Aziz. His prominence in the regime could make Aziz a source for the best information yet on the fate of Saddam and his two sons, as well as the location of any hidden Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Earlier this week, amid mounting accusations that Damascus was harboring members of Saddam Hussein's government who had fled America's invasion of Iraq, US officials had indicated that Hijazi was in Syria. In a sign that tensions were easing between the US and Syria, President George W. Bush indicated that Syria had taken some measures to seal its border.
On Friday, 25 April (Day-37). Hijazi Farouk, former Iraqi spy chief, accused of plotting to assassinate former President George Bush in the 1900s, was detained by the US military and taken into custody in Iraq near the Syrian border. He had been in Tunisia when the war started and sought refuge in Syria as Saddam's government fell. It was unclear whether Hijazi was captured with some assistance from Syrian.
In addition, US officials announced the capture of Hijazi Faroukan who may hold key information. Some call him a main link between Saddam and possible al-Qaida links. The former intelligence chief is suspected of meeting with bin Laden in Afghanistan before 11 September terror attacks.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld indicated that other high-level prisoners
are starting to provide useful information. Farouk Hijazi, Iraq's ambassador
to Tunisia and a former high-ranking intelligence official, joins Deputy Prime
Minister Tariq Aziz and others under interrogation. The key questions put to
them: What happened to Saddam Hussein and the rest of the Iraqi leadership?
Where are chemical and biological weapons hidden? What links did Saddam have
to terrorist groups.
The consequences of any resolution would be to free oil sales and give the United States firm control over contracts and expenditures until an Iraqi government is in place. To minimize any fears of others that the United States and Britain are grabbing Iraq's oil, the United States plans an international oversight function, but not managed by the United Nations.
The Washington Post had indicated that the Bush administration advisers, on
last Wednesday, adopted the proposal put forward by the Pentagon that
eliminated all UN controls over Iraq, rather than the step-by-step approach
preferred by the State Department. Revenue of oil sales would be monitored by
the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund and the funds would be
channeled to the Iraqi Central Bank, who would be in charge of allocation of
the profits from oil sales, some of which would be spent on reconstruction
designated by the Pentagon-run Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian
Assistance or by the Iraqi Interim Authority.
Carroll would work closely with an Iraqi vice-chairman, expected to be Fadil
Othman, who worked as an Iraqi oil executive before Saddam Hussein came to
power. The interim management team would be composed of current and former
Iraqi oil sector officials. Newly appointed executives would answer to the
advisory board which in turn would answer to Jay Garner, the retired US
General heading ORHA, the US civil administrator for Iraq. The chief
executive, who would have basically the same role as former oil ministers and
would also have a seat on the advisory board, would represent Iraq at the
Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Ideally, the two branches of the US executive probably want something very similar, a liberal democracy favorable to the interests of the United States and its Mideast ally Israel. Before Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein disappeared and anarchy replaced repression, US officials spoke about the possibility of Iraq serving as a model of democracy for other Arab countries such as Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
The realities of patching together a credible Iraqi authority has made them lower their sights somewhat, as has the unexpected political assertiveness of the majority Shiite community, among whom opposition to the US military occupation of Iraq appears to be a rallying cry. The experience of the last few weeks has raised the specter in American minds that Iraqis might choose an Iranian-style government dominated by Shiite Muslim clerics who see the United States as the Great Satan.
On Saturday, 26 April (Day-38), the Pentagon began sending a team of Iraqi exiles to Baghdad to help set up a temporary American-led government. Most of the exiles have a background in administration and are set to take up positions at each of the 23 Iraqi ministries. They will work closely with American and British officials under Jay Garner, the retired US General heading ORHA, who is functioning as Iraq's civil administrator.
A defense contractor, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), will actually employ the team of Iraqi technocrats that was initially selected by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz two months ago. They have been working from a suburban Virginia office. Emad Dhia, an Iraqi engineer who left his country 21 years ago, heads the group, named Iraqi Reconstruction and Development Council. He will become the top Iraqi adviser to Jay Garner.
The job of the exiles will be to rebuild the structures of a government that
would then be handed over to the new Iraqi authority. The task of the team is
to help Jay Garner "turn over functioning ministries to the new Iraqi interim
authority after a period of time.
The incident was a reminder that dangers persist in Baghdad, even though fighting has all but ended and the United States has begun focusing on postwar challenges. The ordnance that exploded in Baghdad was stored in a large field surrounded by high walls in the Zafaraniyah neighborhood. It was part of huge hauls of munitions that US forces have been gathering from around the capital. The flares hitting the dump and landing on some ammo boxes were fired by somebody who knew what a pistol flare could do if it landed on a pile of ammunition.
Five people were admitted to the Zafaraniyah General Hospital in serious
condition and twenty others were treated at the hospital for minor injuries
and released. Residents dug through the rubble, looking for bodies. Four
houses were destroyed. The others in the area, had all the windows on the
street side were shattered and many had walls that collapsed.
During the rule of the feuding factions in Kabul between 1992 and 1996, Hekmatyar was prime minister. But his bitter rivalry with slain guerrilla Ahmed Shah Massood and deep divisions between other factions fueled fierce battles that destroyed more than half of Kabul, killed 50,000 people and gave rise to the Taliban.
During the Taliban rule, Hekmatyar lived in self-imposed exile in Iran. The
Taliban refused to accept him in their ranks despite overtures from Hekmatyar,
according to former Taliban. However since their ouster, the Taliban have
entered into an alliance with Hekmatyar, who also has links to al-Qaida,
according to US and European intelligence sources.
In support of the investigations, a platoon of chemical weapons experts from the Army's 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry conducted field tests on one of the 55-gallon barrels. Using three different methods to test liquid from one of the barrels, preliminary results indicated the contents to be a mixture of three chemicals, including cyclsarin, a nerve agent, and a blistering agent which could have been Mustard Gas.
A second series of tests was conducted by chemical specialists from Baghdad and two out of three tests indicated that the original findings were correct. In order to completely verify results, samples of the materials found are being sent to the US Army's chemical research facility at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds, MD for verification testing, because the military does not have field testing equipment in Iraq that is sophisticated enough to eliminate all pesticides. Such detailed tests may take a week to conduct.
Despite initial appearances and findings, officials in Washington were
stressing caution on the Baiji discovery, particularly in light of the facts
that some chemicals previously found by US forces and initially suspected of
being chemical weapons materials turned out to be pesticides.
One file referred to a planned trip from Sudan by an unnamed al-Qaeda representative. An accompanying letter said the envoy was a trusted confidant of bin Laden. It added: "We suggest permission to call the Khartoum station", an apparent reference to Iraq's intelligence office in Sudan, "to facilitate the travel arrangements for the above mentioned person to Iraq. "And that our body carry all the travel and hotel costs inside Iraq to gain the knowledge of the message from bin Laden and to convey to his envoy an oral message from us to bin Laden". The letter said that the message to be sent to bin Laden "would relate to the future of our relationship with him and to achieve a direct meeting with him."
The files appear to contradict claims by Baghdad and many western governments
who opposed the US-led war on Iraq that there was no link between Saddam's
regime and al-Qaeda, the group blamed for the 11 September attacks on
The general was among the key figures in Saddam's weapons programs and would have detailed knowledge of any illegal armaments, if Iraq still posses them. For more than a decade as head of the monitoring commission, the former air force communications engineer has earned a reputation as a loyal officer who has fulfilled Saddam's expectations.
Amin and his troops refused to allow UN inspectors into presidential palaces and other "sensitive sites" during the first round of UN inspections that ended in 1998. He was also one of the few Iraqis authorized to comment on weapons of mass destruction. Like most of Saddam's most trusted lieutenants, he is from a prominent Sunni Muslim family from northern Iraq, in Mosul.
Early in his career, he was assigned to different air bases and radar installations. His career took off when Saddam established the military's Technical and Scientific Committee, a weapons research and development think tank, in 1980.
The US led team administering Baghdad and central Iraq city officials from Saddam Hussein's ousted government on Sunday, snubbing Baghdad's self-declared "mayor" who was later detained by US forces. The team from the Pentagon's Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) has repeatedly refused to recognize the self-declared mayor of postwar Baghdad, returned exile Mohammed Mohsen Zubaidi. While Jay Garner, the retired US General heading ORHA, was discussing restoring water, sewage and waste collection services, Zubaidi was holding a parallel meeting with city officials of Baghdad.
Later in the evening, the Iraqi exile, Mohammed Mohsen al-Zubaidi, who had proclaimed himself Baghdad's mayor and begun issuing directives to city workers was arrested by US forces, who accused him of misrepresenting himself as mayor, a position which he was not appointed and "for his inability to support the coalition military authority and for exercising authority which was not his". Seven other unidentified individuals found with al-Zubaidie were also arrested and taken into custody.
Al-Zubaidi, who has cast himself as a volunteer to help Iraq get back on its
feet, never discouraged widespread rumors that he was appointed by US military
authorities. American forces, however, have become increasingly adamant in
recent days that they have no relationship with him. Al-Zubaidi appeared more
subdued after the encounter with American forces, however, indicating "We
don't have any goal to be political leaders. We just want to fill the gap
left by the dictator".
In a sign of new cooperation, the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, an Iran-based group of Shiite Muslim exiles, sent a low-level delegation to the Baghdad conference. The council had boycotted the first meeting on April 15, and high-ranking members refused to attend Monday's conference in protest of its US sponsorship, said Hamid al-Bayati, a London spokesman for the group.
Although the US extended the UN an invitation to attend Monday's meeting in Baghdad on forming a temporary government in Iraq, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan declined send a representative. The lack of active participation, rather than the criticism previously offered, indicates a reflection of uncertainty in the world body's ability or role in the reconstruction of the country.
Annan has been in touch with council members and has done contingency planning for "a minimalist role vs. a maximalist role" so he will be ready for any recommendation or decision the council may make, however it does not appear as though the council is of one mind yet - but he does sense a coming together of council members that he hopes will produce a consensus in time.
After an opening reading from the Quran, the delegates of 300 leading Iraqis that included women, were welcomed by Jay Garner, the retired US General heading ORHA and chairman for the meeting. He told them that they must build on the recommendations a smaller, initial gathering in the city of Nassiriya two weeks ago, days after Saddam was toppled.
As the discussions proceeded, clear differences of the delegates on the involvement United States emerged, with exiles generally seeking a diminished role for Washington. Many former exiles said Iraqis should rule their country alone and the United States should have only a limited role. Other Iraqis who had not left said they wanted more US supervision because they did not trust those who returned after Saddam's fall.
Delegates spoke out about their own agendas, and during the all-day meeting that lasted two hours longer than planned, US administrators and delegates from Iraq's political factions agreed to convene a larger nation-building conference next month and fashion a temporary, post-Saddam Hussein government, The pledge to meet again in May, from the multiethnic assortment of delegates, represented the first specific timetable for trying to assemble the basis of democracy in postwar Iraq and a more secure tomorrow that could be in place within the days following.
A summary of key points agreed to and adopted by all the delegates, from inside and outside Iraq, at the US sponsored Baghdad conference were:
In other areas of Baghdad, Major General Buford Blount, commander of the 3rd
Infantry Division, on Monday, indicated that there was no question of
releasing Mohammed Mohsen Zubaidi, the self-proclaimed Baghdad mayor arrested
on yesterday for exercising authority he did not have. Giving no details of
any charges, Blount indicated that he had broken multiple laws, from theft to
intimidation, and currently in a holding center and his movements will be
decided in the next few days.
In Qatar, Rumsfeld indicated that the US led war in Iraq was a historic success that will influence military doctrine for decades and said "Baghdad was liberated in less than a month, possibly the fastest march on a capital in modern military history".
Although Rumsfeld refrained from using the word "victory," his tour to the region clearly was meant as an occasion to celebrate the fall of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein with US forces and their allies. He had met earlier with the top US commanders, Lieutenant General David McKiernan, the land component commander, Lieutenant General T. Michael Moseley, the air commander, Vice Admiral Timothy Keating, the naval commander, and Lieutenant General Earl Hailston, the marine commander.
In a tour to thank Gulf leaders for support in the conflict and to discuss potential postwar changes in US forces in the region, he stood beside General Tommy Franks, Commander of the Operation IRAQI FREEDOM and lauded senior officers and headquarters staff, saying the war was historic despite critics who said Iraq should not have been invaded. Rumsfeld and Franks countered that the Iraqi people were now free from oppression and that the war was run with "compassion" for the civilian population.
After talks with the United Arab Emirates' defense minister and chief of staff on Sunday, Rumsfeld and General Tommy Franks, commander of US troops in the region, indicated that US military forces were not going to leave the region any time soon and he wanted to continue operations at Camp As Sayliyah, which was constructed just before the war with Iraq began.
In the north, Kurdish paramilitary forces in Mosul began complying with US Army orders to stop armed patrols at checkpoints to relieve tensions there between Arabs and Kurds. US soldiers of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Airborne had given fighters with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Democratic Party until Monday to stop carrying arms around Mosul. Since the fall of Mosul, Iraq's third largest city with 700,000 people, tensions have escalated between Arab residents and the large Kurdish minority.
Kurds claim the northern city as historically theirs, and resented Saddam Hussein's efforts to displace them with Arabs. Disputes have flared over homes, which Kurds say were taken from them and given to Arabs by Saddam's administration. Some Arab families have been forced out of those homes in recent weeks by Kurdish fighters.
The flexing of military muscle by Kurdish militias in northern Iraq also has also a potential flash point with neighboring Turkey, which fears a Kurdish resurgence in northern Iraq could encourage its own Kurdish rebels to revive a 15-year war for autonomy. Kurdish forces rushed into Mosul before the Americans after Iraqi defenses collapsed.
The US soldiers are calming Mosul in a variety of ways. Three walk-in centers
opened Saturday to inform people gasoline was flowing at some service stations
and propane was available starting Sunday. Soldiers and local police also
began joint patrols yesterday.
Rashid was also a member of the regime's Military Industrialization Organization, the group responsible for producing all of Iraq's most lethal weapons. He appears as the Six of Spades in the set of playing cards issued by the US military authorities to help capture the most wanted leaders of Saddam's former regime and is No. 33 on the revised list of the 55. Monday's surrender was the 14th fugitive of the most wanted list to be placed in US custody.
He is married to Dr. Rihab Taha, a microbiologist known as "Dr. Germ" who was in charge of the secret Iraqi facility that weaponized anthrax, botulinum toxin and aflotoxin. She is also sought by the United States, but there was no word on her whereabouts. Capturing him or his wife would be a boon for US disarmament specialists, who are searching for any chemical, biological or nuclear weapons in Iraq.
US soldiers opened fire on Iraqis at a demonstration after being shot at with automatic rifles by some in the crowd. The director of the local hospital said 13 people were killed and 75 injured. The shooting took place about 2230 hours (local), Monday, in the town of Fallujah, 30 miles west of Baghdad. The predominantly Sunni Muslim area provided strong support for Saddam Hussein's Baath Party.
The demonstrators reportedly were protesting presence of US troops in Fallujah. But some townspeople said the protest was held by students aged 5 to 20 to ask the soldiers to leave the school where they were staying at so classes, scheduled to resume Tuesday, could take place.
US Lieutenant. Christopher Hart indicated that a crowd of 100 to 200 chanting people approached his men, who opened fire after two gunmen with combat rifles appeared from behind the crowd on a motorcycle and started shooting. Some people in the crowd then also fired at the troops.
Colonel Arnold Bray. 82nd Airborne Division, who gave the US account of the clash, said at least seven Iraqis were hit by gunfire but could not confirm the reported deaths. Dr. Ahmed Ghanim al-Ali, director of Fallujah General Hospital, said there were 13 dead, including three boys no older than 10. He said his medical crews were shot at when they went to retrieve the injured, which he said numbered 75 people.
The shooting in Falluja, and a clash between US forces and Iraqi fighters in
the northern city of Mosul on Monday in which six Iraqis were killed,
punctured some of the optimism generated by a mass meeting convened by the
United States in Baghdad to kickstart the transition to democracy.
Walid Hamid Tawfiq who appears as the Eight of Clubs in the set of playing cards issued by the US military authorities to help capture the most wanted leaders of Saddam's former regime and is No. 26 on the revised list of the 55. Tuesday's surrender was the 15th fugitive of the most wanted list to be placed in US custody.
Later in the day, Major General Glenn Webster, deputy commander of US ground forces in Iraq, spoke with reporters before a town hall meeting with about 50 city officials and other Iraqis to discuss the disorder afflicting the city since the fall of Saddam Hussein regime. He indicated that the US Army has released a plan that will deploy up to 4,000 additional military police and infantrymen in Baghdad within two weeks to help stem the lawlessness that has plagued the capital.
The Baghdad police force dissolved when US forces took control of the city 09
April, but it is slowly being revived. American Military Police (MP), within
a week, will begin retraining Baghdad police officers volunteering for a
reconstituted police force, who with reinforcements added to more than 12,000
US troops now in Baghdad will mount joint patrols on foot and in vehicles.
After Wednesday's shootings, a US Army colonel said his forces will remain here "to help the city stabilize." Residents repeatedly said they want the Americans at least to withdraw to the city's outskirts. Some were threatening. "Sooner or later US killers we'll kick you out," read an angry banner in English unfurled in the faces of GIs on guard. This week's Fallujah bloodshed, in large part the result of clashes between a foreign force and a traditional Muslim society, underscores the military's challenge in a land where many say they will resist any foreign hand that tries to control them. The resistance is especially sharp in Fallujah, a city of 200,000 people 30 miles west of Baghdad, because it benefited particularly from Saddam Hussein's Baath regime, toppled last month by the US led coalition.
The regime built chemical and other factories that generated jobs for Fallujah's workers and wealth for its businessmen. The city sent many of its young men to elite regime forces such as the Republican Guard and Special Republican Guard. Wednesday's violence occurred at the climax of a march by 1,000 men protesting the earlier shootings, which took place at a Fallujah school taken over for a time by a company of the 82nd Airborne Division. The marchers, mostly young men in sandals and ankle-length dishdashas, halted on Fallujah's main avenue before a former police compound used as an 82nd Airborne command post.
The Bush administration has chosen L. Paul Bremer, a former head of the State Department's counterterrorism office, to become civilian administrator in Iraq and oversee the country's transition to democratic rule. Bremer's selection, disclosed Wednesday by a senior US official, will put him in charge of a transition team that includes retired Army Lieutenant General Jay Garner and Zalmay Khalilzad, the special White House envoy in the Persian Gulf region.
Bremer left the State Department, where he was an assistant to former
secretaries William P. Rogers and Henry Kissinger, to join Kissinger
Associates, a consulting firm studded with both Democrats and Republicans that
held top US government posts. Currently, Bremer serves as chairman and chief
executive of Marsh Crisis Consulting company. Overseeing the transition from
rule by Saddam Hussein to Iraqi opponents of the deposed president is a tricky
assignment in which the Bush administration is playing an aggressive role
while also declaring it is up to a wide diversity of Iraqi groups to choose a
US troops refused to release the name of the official, citing security. Five Bradley Fighting Vehicles surrounded the two-story villa in a neighborhood formerly reserved for Baath Party members. One of the Bradleys slammed through a 10-foot wall surrounding the compound. About 40 infantrymen of the 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment swarmed through the hole, fanning across the lawn and breaking down the wooden front door.
Inside, the soldiers found three men, the suspect and his two sons, five women and four children. The three men were led from the house blindfolded and with their hands bound behind their backs. They were driven away as the women stood weeping and peering through the windows. Major Mike Silverman, a battalion operations officer, indicated."I think it sends a pretty clear message when a Bradley comes through your wall in the middle of the night, And the message is the regime is dead so get in line."
The United States will help Iraq put its currency on a sound footing, re-establish a central bank and put together a federal budget, Treasury Secretary John Snow said Wednesday. Among the priorities, he said, will be restoring operations of the Finance Ministry, the central bank, commercial banks and the stock market. American financial advisers also will assist Iraqis in redesigning their tax and customs systems and managing the country's considerable foreign debt.
To help pay for Iraq's rejuvenation, Snow said the United States can use some $1.7 billion in Iraqi assets frozen in US banks after the first Gulf War. He said he has also contacted finance ministers around the world to ask that they identify and seize Iraqi funds in their own banks for Iraqi reconstruction programs. He said the response to those contacts had been good. He said international partners also were willing to consider canceling or restructuring some of Iraq's foreign debts, which may be in the hundreds of billions of dollars. The Paris Club, an organization of creditor countries that negotiates debt deals with debtor nations, could be an avenue for arranging debt relief.
The United States explained its contacts with armed Iranian dissidents in Iraq on Wednesday as a tactical decision by military commanders, not negotiations with a group the State Department has designated a "foreign terrorist organization." The cease-fire between US forces and the People's Mujahideen organization was merely the prelude to a surrender by the group, which had thousands of fighters in Iraq. The fighters of the organization, also known by the Farsi name Mujahideen-e Khalq, or MEK, did not resist this month when US forces reached their camps in northeastern Iraq. They say they have no quarrel with the United States.
The organization has an office in Washington and many supporters in the
Congress. But the State Department is strongly opposed to the group and has
repeatedly accused it of helping the government of vanished Iraqi leader
Saddam Hussein in internal security, a charge the Mujahideen has denied.
The incident, the latest in a series of clashes and deadly shootings involving US troops in Fallujah, came as President Bush prepared to address to the American public from a homeward-bound aircraft carrier, declaring that major combat in Iraq is finished. None of the injuries to soldiers of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Fallujah was life-threatening. The troops inside the walled compound, a former police station, opened fire on men fleeing the area, but no one was captured or believed hit. The attackers' identities were unknown.
A key oil refinery was restarted near the southern city of Basra, Iraq's second-largest city. Southern Iraq had been running out of gasoline and propane, and the restart squashes fear Iraq might have to import the fuels. The plant is producing around 28,000 barrels a day of refined product.
Coalition civil engineers were shot at while working in a gas-oil separation plant in southern Iraq's Rumeila oil fields, the country's largest. Three people in a pickup truck reportedly opened fire on the engineers. There were no injuries. Coalition soldiers were in the area at the time, but did not return fire.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has raised doubts about Iraq's future in OPEC, the 11-member oil exporting group it helped found in 1960. On an earlier trip to Baghdad, he had indicated that he suspected that Iraq is not currently a member, adding "if they are, they're probably on a very qualified basis". Communications seeking comment from OPEC officials in Vienna, Austria, went unanswered.
Since Iraq had no official government and its oil minister was in hiding, it was not represented at last week's OPEC meeting, when the group decided to cut its oil output by 2 million barrels a day, or 7 percent. Iraq is facing pressure to ramp up oil production as much as possible to pay for its reconstruction. That could create problems for OPEC, which likes to keep prices stable by regulating output.
In a preliminary speech to that of President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney Indicated to the Heritage Foundation think tank that a high-tech revolution, using fewer troops and jet fighters than during the 1991 Gulf War, gave the US military the lethal power to defeat Iraq's Saddam Hussein.
New war technology, including unmanned spy planes flying at 65,000 feet and real-time computer displays that replaced "maps, grease pencils and radio reports" for field commanders, let US forces topple Saddam before he could react using with less than half of the ground forces and two-thirds of the air assets used 12 years ago in Desert Storm,
Cheney indicated that the Bush administration can claim credit for devising new strategies for employing the systems, including much greater use of special forces, to strike with precision and move at "incredible speed. Looking at the overall effort, Saddam Hussein apparently expected that this war would essentially be a replay of Desert Storm ... He seems to have assumed there was ample time to destroy the oil wells that he had already rigged to explode, and to destroy the bridges and the dams that he wired. But the tactics employed succeeded in taking the enemy by surprise.
Advances cited by Cheney included:
On 01 May, President George W. Bush flew to the USS Abraham Lincoln aboard a Navy S-3B Viking and landed making a dramatic, cable-arrested, landing on the deck, as the carrier steamed toward San Diego as thousands of cheering Navy personnel dressed in yellow, green and power blue crew shirts watched.
Later in the evening, Bush addressed the 5,000 military personnel aboard and the nation indicating that all major combat operations in Iraq has ended.The objective of the speech was to give the nation a closure to the fighting while avoiding a sweeping claim of overall victory. He indicated that there was much more needed to be done, including bringing order to the country, finding weapons of mass destruction, creating a democratic government and pursuing leaders of the fallen regime, including Saddam.
President Bush on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, which sent thousands of aircraft into war. told the nation, "In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. Saddam Hussein's defeat is one victory in a war on terror that still goes on. Major combat operations in Iraq have ended, In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed."
Continuing, the President said "The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We have removed an ally of al-Qaida and cut off a source of terrorist funding. And this much is certain: No terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime because that regime is no more."
"The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on 11 September 2001, and still goes on," he said. "Our mission continues. Al-Qaida is wounded, not destroyed. The scattered cells of the terrorist network still operate in many nations, and we know from daily intelligence that they continue to plot against free people. The proliferation of deadly weapons remains a serious danger. The enemies of freedom are not idle, and neither are we."
Bush stopped short of declaring victory or an end to the war. Such declarations could trigger international laws requiring the speedy release of prisoners of war, limiting efforts to go after deposed Iraqi leaders and designating the United States as an occupying power.
The United States shut its last major Turkish military mission, Incirlik Air Base, Thursday as part of a regional shuffle of bases that is raising questions about Turkey's strategic importance to Washington.
The US government also indicated that this week that it would leave bases in Saudi Arabia, where the presence of American forces had long been a source of anti-American sentiment. US officials said the defeat of Saddam Hussein's regime ended the need for Turkish-based air missions to monitor a no-fly zone over northern Iraq or for Saudi bases to mount flights over a no-fly zone in southern Iraq.
At a ceremony marking the end of the US mission here, General Charles Wald, deputy commander of US European Command, noted that Washington also is reviewing the positioning of troops in Europe and denied that leaving Incirlik indicated trouble in relations with Turkey.
In May 2001, Hadi was put in charge of the party's Farmers' Central Office. Hadi was reportedly very close to Saddam and had been one of his advisers, especially on Shiite affairs, since the early 1980s. He had been a minister without portfolio since June 1982 and before that was governor of Najaf.
With President Bush declaring the end of major combat operations in Iraq, the following is a summary of major events in Iraq since the war started:
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