Coalition forces continue on the move toward Baghdad, as a showdown for the Iraqi capital looms.


In the second week of the war, U.S. soldiers from the Third Mechanized Division engaged in an artillery attack against Iraqi soldiers in south central Iraq.

U.S. forces have met with strong resistance from Iraqi troops, but took advantage of clearing weather to launch a counter-offensive.

British troops heading toward Iraq?s second-largest city Basra, also came under fire from Iraqi fighters along the Al Faw peninsula. In one village, British soldiers found a small number of guns in a deserted municipal building.


They also seized an airstrip in southern Iraq, and detonated several mines.

Meanwhile, one thousand paratroopers from the Army?s 173rd Airborne Brigade dropped onto a field in a Kurdish-controlled area of northern Iraq. Their goal is to open a new front to bring in more troops and heavy equipment. It is the first large deployment of U.S. ground forces in the region.

At the same time, Kurdish fighters moved into areas of the North previously held by Saddam Hussein?s government, after Iraqi troops abandoned their positions.

In Baghdad, round-the-clock coalition airstrikes continued for a second week. Air raid sirens sounded, and anti-aircraft batteries opened fire. Both daylight and nighttime bombing raids have targeted Saddam Hussein?s palaces and government buildings.

At a Central Command briefing, U.S. Brigadier General Vincent Brooks said the coalition strikes were demoralizing Iraqi troops.

?Day by day, we significantly diminish the regime?s ability to command and control its forces. As we do, we witness the regime?s forces becoming more and more desperate in their actions.?

General Brooks showed before and after photos of strikes against what he said was an Iraqi missile support facility. He also said coalition planes targeted a television facility that also served as a communications center.

Brooks added that special operations forces would continue looking for weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles.