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Thousands of Iraqi Republican Guard Soldiers Surrender During Al Kut Battle - 2003-04-04

Officials at the coalition command center in Qatar say more than 2,000 soldiers of Iraq's Republican Guard have surrendered to U.S. forces.

Coalition spokesman Captain Frank Upton says the Iraqi soldiers surrendered during a battle in the region of al-Kut, 80 kilometers south of the capital. "We have reports of approximately 2,500 soldiers of the Iraqi Republican Guard laying down their arms in their confrontation with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force," he said.

Captain Upton also confirmed U.S. forces are at Baghdad's international airport. "We have troops on the ground at the airport," said Captain Upton. "They were met with some light resistance."

However, the coalition spokesman would not confirm reports by military commanders at the airport that most of the facility is under coalition control. Iraq's information minister Friday indicated U.S forces were near the capital.