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Coalition Forces Bomb Saddam-Controlled Areas in Northern Iraq

BY Admin  March 26, 2003 at 10:57 AM EDT

Five large explosions threw up plumes of black smoke on the hilltops overlooking Chamchamal, a town in the Kurdish-controlled Iraqi enclave wrested from Baghdad after the 1991 Gulf War.

Kurds in Chamchamal, bitter enemies of Saddam’s government, cheered after each explosion, Reuters reported.

But a Kurdish commander controlling the area around Chamchamal told Reuters the Americans needed to do more to rout the Iraqi forces effectively

“I don’t like this kind of attack,” Mam Rostam told Reuters in Chamchamal minutes after the bombing ended. “It needs to be much heavier if they want to bring a swift end to this war.”

On Monday, coalition forces bombed Iraq’s Bani Maqem military barracks, which is close to the line that separates the Kurdish-held area from territory under the control of Saddam Hussein. The northern cities of Mosul and Kalak have also come under attack from U.S.-led forces.

A top Kurdish military official, Rostam Kirkuki, told the Associated Press Monday that the Americans bombed the entire corridor between Chamchamal and Kirkuk, a key Saddam-controlled oil center 25 miles west of Chamchamal.

On Saturday and Sunday, U.S. air strikes in northern Iraq targeted the militant Ansar al-Islam group, an Islamic group of several hundred fighters with alleged al-Qaida and Baghdad ties. Kurdish officials have told Reuters that recent coalition bombings have inflicted heavy losses on the group.

Meanwhile, the United States has been building up its presence in the Kurdish north, bringing in warplanes and military personnel.

The United States wanted to use Turkey to attack Iraq from the north, but the Turkish parliament refused to grant access to ground troops before the war in Iraq began.