Accessibility links

Breaking News

Battle for Baghdad Continues - 2003-03-31

U.S. commanders say their forces are battling Iraq's elite Republican Guards less than 100 kilometers from the Iraqi capital.

The deputy operations commander, Brigadier General Vincent Brooks, says special operations forces Monday destroyed two Iraqi convoys, including 10 tanks, and several Iraqi planes in western Iraq. The general said this is part of coalition efforts to control the region.

General Brooks added that coalition troops are also checking travelers on western roads linking Baghdad to Jordan.

"We are eliminating freedom of action and freedom of movement from anyone that would pass through there," said General Brooks. "And so if we see someone coming on roads, we may stop and check and see who they are."

The general's remark follows reports that advanced equipment like night vision goggles are being sent to Iraq from neighboring countries and after an announcement by Iraqi leaders that four thousand suicide bombers are being sent to aid Iraqi forces.

Saturday, an Iraqi soldier detonated a car bomb at a coalition checkpoint in central Iraq, killing four U.S. soldiers, the first suicide bombing since the war began 12 days ago.

General Brooks says such attacks are not effective because they do relatively little damage and the unit that is attacked is able to re-organize and continue its mission.

"It's a terror tactic and it won't be effective," said General Brooks. "We're continuing operations right now. We had a car bomb explosion, and our operations are still continuing beyond where that car bomb occurred. It will not stop us."

General Brooks said coalition forces Monday battled troops of Iraq's elite Republican Guard near the city of Najaf, south of Baghdad, and U.S. marines seized ammunition and chemical protection equipment in a town near Nasiriyah.

The general said coalition forces continue to witness what he called brutal acts by Iraqi forces against civilians. He said a car followed by a truck approached a checkpoint at high speed Sunday. He says the car, after being fired upon, stopped and was rammed from behind by the truck.

"An adult male and an adult female and two children exited the sedan. Two Iraqi soldiers exited the truck and one of the soldiers shot and killed the female," said General Brooks.

He added that a brief firefight ensued in which the three remaining civilians and the two soldiers were wounded

General Brooks says humanitarian aid is flowing into Iraq at an increasing rate, adding that the first overland convoys of relief supplies have been sent from Kuwait.

"The coalition escorted aid convoys to Umm Qasr, As-Safayir and Safwan," he said.

Finally, he says a water pipeline built by coalition forces is now bringing more than two million liters of clean water to southern Iraq from Kuwait.