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Coalition Troops Facing Light Resistance as They Approach Baghdad - 2003-04-03

Coalition troops fighting Iraq are reported advancing rapidly toward Baghdad, and some units are said to be less than 20 kilometers from the center of the city. Reporters traveling with some units say the troops are meeting only light resistance as they pass by.

U.S. Army deputy operations director, Brigadier General Vincent Brooks, acknowledged some coalition troops are close to Baghdad, but he declined to say how close or how soon they would arrive.

"We are cautiously optimistic," General Brooks said. "While we are having successes now, we still believe there is fighting ahead. We can not predict entirely what will occur next."

The general's remarks follow reports that American units are moving rapidly toward the Iraqi capital. General Brooks said American troops have passed through the Karbala Gap, less than 80 kilometers from Baghdad and have taken another important bridge over the Euphrates River. He said these troops are carrying out, what he called, a deliberate attack toward Baghdad.

Coalition officials say they have destroyed two divisions of the Iraqi Republican Guard and have taken thousands of prisoners. Iraq's minister of information, Mohammed Said al-Sahhaf, denied the report, calling it an illusion.