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Coalition Troops Still Facing 'Pockets of Resistance' - 2003-04-10


Coalition combat operations are under way in Baghdad, as well as northern and western Iraq, as resistance from remnants of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's regime continued a day after the collapse of the government. Military officials say coalition forces are conducting operations across a broad front, with activity in Baghdad and around the northern Iraqi cities of Tikrit, Mosul and Kirkuk.

Reporters in Kirkuk say Kurdish Peshmerga forces had entered the city, something that neighboring Turkey has adamantly opposed.

The Central Command director of operations, Major General Gene Renuart, says the U.S.-led forces are in contact with all interested parties, and suggested he was not worried that Turkey might move to protect what it sees as its interests in the area.

"I am not worried that one side might miscalculate the other," he said. "We continue to work very aggressively with both sides to ensure that our intentions are very clear. It is to return stability to the country as quickly as we can."

Despite having taken positions in five different locations in the city of Baghdad, U.S. forces fought battles in several locations.

General Renuart said military operations in the capital are far from complete.

"Baghdad's still an ugly place," he said. "There are many parts of the city that are either not secured by U.S. forces, or are sort of unsecured at all, and there are other places in the city where we believe there are still remaining small elements of Republican Guard or Special Republican Guard and paramilitary forces."

As the Iraqi government's grip on power in Baghdad crumbled, nearly the entire Iraqi leadership appeared to have vanished.

The fate of Saddam Hussein remains unknown since Monday, when an American bomber dropped four precision-guided, 2,000 lb bombs on a Baghdad building, where it was believed the Iraqi leader might have been holding a meeting with top aides.

Special operations forces are reported to have visited that site, going through the rubble to determine whether Saddam Hussein was killed.

The hunt for the Iraqi leader is now focused on his hometown of Tikrit, 160 kilometers northwest of Baghdad, although there has been speculation that he may have fled to Syria.

Military leaders say they are focusing on an area near the town of Al Qa'im, because of its strategic location, but decline to draw a direct connection between the operations and a search for Saddam Hussein or other top government officials.

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