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Iraqi Leadership No Longer Controlling Baghdad - 2003-04-08


U.S. military commanders say the Iraqi leadership is no longer in control of the Iraqi capital Baghdad and other major Iraqi cities. More than 100 U.S. tanks and armored vehicles pushed into the center of the Iraqi capital early Monday. Brian Purchia has the latest.

U.S. troops stormed President Saddam Hussein's main presidential palace and seized other government buildings.

V.O.A. Correspondent Alisha Ryu toured one of these palaces near the international airport in Baghdad.

ALISHA RYU, V.O.A. CORRESPONDENT
“Inside is a absolute palatial marble beautiful building. There's not a whole lot of damage to the building. It was found pretty much abandoned. We found some defensive positions of bunker type of things outside, but they have been abandoned.”

Brigadier General Vincent Brooks says there has been only moderate resistance from Iraqi forces.

BRIGADIER GENERAL VINCENT BROOKS, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND
“Similarly there are places and pockets of resistance in the surrounding Baghdad areas and in some of the towns we have already passed through…The regime does still have some military capability.”

Although pictures of U.S. armed forces moving through the heart of Baghdad were seen worldwide, Iraq's information minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf denied that any American tanks were in the city.

MOHAMMED SAEED AL-SAHAF, INFORMATION MINISTER
"They are sick in their minds (spoken in English). (Different voice off camera, “They are really sick in their minds). (Another voice (off camera) continues in Arabic)

Elsewhere on the battlefield, U.S. troops were reported to have taken control of the center of Karbala.

In northern Iraq, Kurdish fighters and U.S. Special Forces have been advancing toward Mosul as Iraqi forces withdraw.

In the southern Iraqi city of Basra, British troops are in control and trying to maintain order, amid looting by civilians of banks, hotels, and government buildings.

Southwest of Baghdad, U.S. troops believe they may have made a significant discovery. Large containers that appear to be filled with chemicals were found.

CAPT. KEN HUTCHINSON, US ARMY
“More than half the guys have thrown up. Some guys were reporting red dots and headaches.”

Several U.S. soldiers have been killed in fighting Monday. The Red Cross says hospitals in Baghdad are overrun with Iraqi war casualties. While U.S. officials say over the last three days more than 3,000 Republican Guard troops have been killed.

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