Commanders of the U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq say the southern port of Umm Qasr is now secure and humanitarian aid is due to arrive within days.

The coalition's director of operations, Major General Gene Renuart, said British troops have secured the port of Umm Qasr and are clearing the waters leading to it of mines and obstructions.

"We have ships already loading with humanitarian supplies donated by a number of different countries," he explained. "And we hope to have them up the channels into the port within a very short number of days."

General Renuart says humanitarian organizations in Kuwait are poised to distribute relief aid as soon as the region is secure.

There was sporadic resistance around the cities of Basra and Nasiriya, but military officials say it is gradually being neutralized.

A humanitarian crisis has been looming in southern Iraq because of a cutoff of water supplies, but General Renuart said water is being restored.