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Major Combat Operations in Iraq Ending - 2003-05-01


President Bush’s envoy to Iraq has met with the leaders of Iraqi political groups to discuss the country’s next government. Meanwhile, the U.S. Central Command says 7 American soldiers were wounded in a grenade attack in the Iraqi town of Fallujah. Brian Purchia has the latest on Iraq.

A U.S. Army officer in Fallujah says unidentified Iraqis lobbed grenades into a former police station being used as a U.S. troop compound. A Central Command statement says 5 of the soldiers were evacuated for medical treatment but all are in stable condition. Tension has been high in Fallujah after incidents this week in which U.S. troops fired on protesters and killed at least 15 Iraqis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, FALLUJAH RESIDENT
"Bullets from the American army there and there and inside houses.”

In central Baghdad at least one person was killed and several people were badly burned when bullets caused a fuel tanker to explode near Baghdad’s railway station. Witnesses told U.S. soldiers that Iraqis firing into the air to celebrate the resumption of power supplies in the area caused the explosion.

In Iraq’s holy city of Najaf, hundreds of thousands of Shiite Muslims are gathering for the second day, to mark the death of the Prophet Mohammad. For the first time in decades Iraqis are freely making the pilgrimage. Many there are optimistic about their future.

UNIDENTIFIED IRAQI MAN
“I see the future of Iraq to be better than before. Saddam Hussein was the worst regime to come to Iraq.”

Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld concluded a tour of the Gulf region in Kuwait, Thursday, where he thanked Kuwaiti leaders for their help in the U.S. led overthrow of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

And with most of the fighting over, U.S. troops continue to return to their home bases. These pilots from the U.S. aircraft carrier Kittyhawk returned to their home base in Japan after more than six months in Iraq. Navy Captain Patrick Driscoll.

CAPTAIN PATRICK DRISCOLL, U.S. NAVY
"What a great day here at Atsugi, a great welcome from people coming out and saying hello to us. It's always nice to get home after the deployment. This one was a little longer than our normal deployment so it's certainly great to be back."

President Bush is set to declare the end of major combat operations in Iraq, saying the United States will now turn its attention to the reconstruction phase.

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