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Deborah Block Interview - 2003-03-26

After hours of blinding sandstorms and thunderstorms, a convoy of marines aided by Australian forces continued battles after crossing the Euphrates River north of Al-Nasiriyah. The Marines shot at an ammunition cache as well as armored vehicles and tanks, and the sky lit up at night from numerous rounds of projectile artillery in various directions. The Iraqis returned artillery fire but it fell short. Later on, the marines artillery shot at some Iraqi mortars. The marines are fighting some elements of the Republican Guard now [interference] as the regular army.

And they’re fighting in extremely difficult situations you’ve already mentioned the sandstorm. How are they dealing with the sandstorm, the weather, that whole condition.

I thought it was just unbelievable last night, [interference] to see the Marines out here still keeping watch, having to shoot the artillery [interference] under incredible conditions and they were absolutely incredible. You couldn’t see in front of you at all. If you didn’t have this blinding sandstorm that made the sky dull orange and practically turned at three o’clock in the afternoon, it practically turned pitch black. And then right after that you have these raging thunderstorms that would come down and its just really amazing that they could keep going and function at all. And after speaking to some of them today their spirits are still up in spite of the difficult weather conditions.

You know we can’t help but remember the scenes from the other day when some marines came under fire apparently when they thought they were approaching civilians and let’s talk a bit about these civilians who are being used as cover by the Iraqi fighters.

Reportedly Steve, women and children are being used as cover for Iraqi forces not as human shields but as covers so that they are front of let’s say the infantry so that the U.S. forces don’t mutanize there are soldiers right behind them.

The Marines that I have been with are now much more careful and checking out surroundings. Not long ago in the location I’m at, they were going house to house in the area to make sure the homes were cleared even Bedouins that are herding camels on the horizon here are being looked at much more with suspicion than they would have a couple days ago.

Also Steve just to let you know, that the Iraqi Republican Guard now is apparently going door to door telling civilians in their homes, the men, that they must go out and fight.