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Day 14, latest reports

Xinhuanet 2003-04-03 11:24:50

Day 14, latest reports

Spot 1 U.S. Troops free local cleric

    U.S. forces were taking fire from the Ali Mosque but not shooting back because it is one of the most important Shiite Muslim sites.  Soldiers freed a local Shiite cleric from years of house arrest by Saddam's regime.

Spot 2 Convoys chokes road north

    The highway leading out of Nasiriyah was choked with coalition military convoys headed north. Vehicles churned up billowing clouds of dust as they drove through a barren landscape of cracked land dotted with green clumps of grass. Blown bunkers and collapsed buildings flanked the road.

Spot 3 U.S. rescues POW

    U.S. commandos staged a nighttime raid on an Iraqi hospital in Nasiriyah to rescue Pfc. Jessica Lynch, a prisoner of war who had been held since the 507th Maintenance Company was ambushed in the city. The rescue team retrieved 11 bodies from the hospital, at least some of them believed to be Americans.

Spot 4 Basra fight continues

    British forces skirmished with Iraqi defenders in the encircled city of Basra while hoping that civilians turn against the paramilitary fighters.

Baghdad Region
Spot 1  Bombs target Baghdad phones Spot 2 Euphrates crossing captured Spot 3 U.S. Black Hawk shot down

 Spot 4 3rd Infantry drives forward

Spot 5 Marines seize important bridge Spot 6 Coalition cross Tigris near Al Kut
  Baghdad again came under intense bombardment Wednesday, with telephone exchanges among the targets hit. Iraqi television broadcast a statement attributed to Saddam Hussein, declaring that, "victory is at hand." Saddam did not appear in person.

  Lead elements of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division pushed through a gap west of Karbala and captured a bridge across the Euphrates River near here. They met little resistance, facing only sporadic blasts of small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire.

  The bridge was rigged with explosives, which were defused by engineers to allow U.S. units across the river.

  A U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter was shot down by small arms fires went down near the site of fierce fighting between U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division and Iraqi troops, including Republincan Guard. There are unconfirmed reports of casualties.

  In an attack launched at midnight, 3rd Infantry units surged past the strategic city of Karbala, targeting an estimated 2,000 paramilitary fighters. Karbala, which stis on the main approach to Baghdad from the southwest, was encircled and hit by a steady bombardment from U.S. artillery and warplanes.

  Marines took a key bridge here without a fight, as many Iraqi soldiers surrendered and others simply traded their Iraqi army uniforms for civlilian clothes.

  Marines units were erecting a pontoon bridge in the area to help the flow of troops and supplies toward Baghdad.

  Central Command said the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force crossed the Tigris River and destroyed the Baghdad Division of the Republican Guard. The river crossing at Al Kut opens a key highway approach to Baghdad from the southeast.

(Source: USA Today. updated 10:45 pm ET, April 2)

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