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Iraq War News Roundup

April 6, 2003 at 12:00 AM EDT
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KWAME HOLMAN: At the city’s edge, the U.S. buildup continued at the newly seized international airport. Some 7,000 troops now are deployed there. And parts of the U.S. Army’s third infantry division made another foray into the city. U.S. Marine and army forces blasted their way into parts of Baghdad and around the city’s outskirts for a second day. The evidence of destruction this first round of urban fighting has brought was found easily. U.S. military officials said their forces had almost encircled the city of five million and secured all of the main roads except Highway 2 north to Kirkuk. The army’s first brigade at the airport west of Baghdad, the second brigade was securing the south and third bringing gad holding the northwest.

Meanwhile the marines were in the northeast, there they discovered a weapons storage facility filled with rocket type ammunition and machine guns. U.S. forces have found similar cashes long their approach to the Iraqi capitol. At Baghdad International Airport first U.S. Military aircraft landed. A C130 transport and supply plane arrived after nightfall Sunday. But Iraq’s information minister denied the reports that U.S. troops had encircled Baghdad claiming that Iraqi forces had them on the run.

MOHAMMED SAEED AL-SAHHAF: Our units, military units from the Republican Guard are still thrusting the enemy and chasing it in the area of Saddam international airport and the casualties are as the following: We have destroyed six tanks. And we have rendered useless another ten of the enemy tanks. And we have killed 50, 50 of soldiers. We have shot down two Apache helicopters in the village.

KWAME HOLMAN: Iraqi TV today showed images of Saddam Hussein presiding at a meeting with his top aids; the Iraqi leader also quoted on the TV urging soldiers to continue fighting. At hospitals in Baghdad doctors said injured civilians were pouring in. Red Cross workers reported that since Friday several hundred war wounded and dozens of dead have been brought to four city hospitals.

DR. OSAMA SALEEH, Most of – about 95 percent of those people are children and women and all old people and a lot of them was badly injured and about ten patients was dead.

KWAME HOLMAN: Just southeast of the city near Salman Pak military officials said a marine bat Aaltalon raided a Republican Guard headquarters and seized one of Saddam’s palaces. At the central command briefing today in Qatar Brigadier General Vincent Brooks gave details about a terrorist training camp where marines found the shell of a jet believed to be used to practice hijacking.

BRIG. GEN. VINCENT BROOKS: That’s just one of a number of examples we’ve found where there’s training activity happening inside Iraq. It reinforces the likelihood of links between this regime and external terrorist organizations, clear links with common interests. Some of these fighters came from Sudan, some from Egypt and other places and we killed a number of them and have captured a number of them and that’s where some of the information came from.

KWAME HOLMAN: There were reports of another friendly fire intent in northern Iraq. Kurdish officials said U.S. aircraft mistakenly bopped a convoy of U.S. Special forces and Kurdish fighters killing at least 17 curds and wounding 45 others. There was no word about any American casualties. Meanwhile U.S. Ambassador to Russia Alexander Versbhow visited the foreign ministry in Moscow to express official regrets for the attack on a convoy of Russian diplomat evacuating Baghdad. At least four people were wounded.

ALEXANDER VERSHBOW, U.S. Ambassador, Russia: We still do not know which forces were involved and we don’t know anything about the circumstances of the incident. But I undertook to get more information from our commandeers and to share it immediately with the minister with the Russian government. It’s a very difficult situation. It is a war zone. We did coordinate with the Russian side on this departure but Iraqi forces are active. And there is many military exchanges going on. But we will do as much as we can to facilitate their safe departure.

KWAME HOLMAN: To the south today elements of U.S. 101st airborne division pushed to the center of Karbala as Iraqi resistance died down and British forces drove to the heart of Basra — Iraq’s second largest city. We have more on that story from Tim Uwart of Independent Television News.

TIM UWART: The British tanks rolled out this morning, two weeks after laying siege to this city of one million people. From their positions on its outskirts, they rumbled through the city gates: Hundreds of tanks, armored vehicles, and fighting men of the desert rats. From the ground, they took out enemy positions. ( Explosions ) and from the air, they flew in reinforcements. Most of the resistance came from small arms fire, from radical militia dressed in civilian clothes. There seemed to be no cohesive fighting force here, and no sign of the feared Republican Guard.

Soldiers of the Irish guards were soon out of their warrior fighting vehicles and on the streets for the first time, the road behind them littered with the shells of burnt-out Iraqi tanks. This was meant to be a lightning raid, but now they’re here to stay. And it does appear that some of the locals, at least, are happy to see them. By early afternoon, and flanked by helicopter gunships, British challenger tanks had shot their way close to the city center. They’re now fortifying their positions, and clearing away the last pockets of resistance.

KWAME HOLMAN: Three British soldiers were killed in Basra today. That pushed the overall British death toll to 28. The official U.S. casualty figures are seventy-nine killed, eight missing, and seven prisoners of war. The Iraqis have claimed thousands of civilian deaths and injuries, but have not reported military casualties. The U.S. Military estimated today that up to 3,000 Iraqi fighters were killed yesterday alone in Baghdad. Jim.