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 Monday, March 31, 2003


Chronology of the war on Iraq on day 11

Civilian Casualty Update

A wounded Iraqi girl is treated by U.S. marines in central Iraq. The four-year old girl, blood streaming from an eye wound, was screaming for her dead mother, while her father, shot in a leg, begged to be freed from the plastic wrist cuffs slapped on him by U.S. marines, so he could hug his other terrified daughter.

Iraqi girl with her sister, waiting for her mother


Pain and Anger

The following is a chronology of the MAIN events of the US-led war on Iraq, as the conflict went into its 11th day.

March 20:

-- 0100 GMT: A deadline set by US President George W. Bush for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to flee the country expires

-- 0235 GMT: The United States launches war on Iraq with limited air strikes on Baghdad, as Bush promises in a nationwide address a "broad and concerted campaign" to disarm the country

March 21:

-- The United States launches 1,000 cruise missiles and 1,000 air strike late night sorties on hundreds of targets in Baghdad and elsewhere

-- Eight British and four US troops become the first known casualties on the coalition side when a helicopter crashes in Kuwait

-- Turkey opens its airspace to US warplanes bound for Iraq after rejecting US request to deploy 62,000 soldiers

March 22:

Map of Iraq

-- US troops meet stiff resistance around the key port of Umm Qasr and in Nasiriyah, a key crossing point over the Euphrates River, farther to the north

-- An Australian cameraman is killed in a suicide car bombing in northern Iraq, and a British television reporter dies in shooting in the south

March 23:

-- Iraqi television shows pictures said to be of dead US soldiers and five captured US troops

-- US air raids pound Baghdad, the northern city of Mosul and positions held by an alleged al-Qaeda-linked Kurdish Islamist group

-- US officials say a US Patriot missile brought down a British RAF Tornado fighter plane in Iraq in a friendly fire incident

-- A US soldier is detained after a grenade attack that killed one US soldier and wounded 12 in northern Kuwait

March 24:

-- Iraq shoots down two US Apache helicopters

-- US commander General Tommy Franks says coalition forces are holding 3,000 prisoners

-- Iraq's northern oil capital of Kirkuk is rocked by 24 hours of almost non-stop bombardment

March 25:

-- British and US forces report gains in their advance on Baghdad and have taken control of Umm Qasr

-- A sandstorm brings hundreds of US and British tanks and amphibious assault vehicles to a complete halt

-- Violent bombing on the outskirts of Baghdad rocks the capital amid reports that advancing US-British troops are within 100 kilometres (60 miles)

-- Bush asks the US Congress to approve a package of 74.7 billion dollars to finance the war and protect the United States from future terrorist attacks.

-- A US Patriot battery shoots down a British Tornado warplane by mistake, killing its two pilots.

March 26:

-- Iraq says 14 Iraqis are killed when missiles hit a residential and market area in Baghdad.

-- US troops kill 1,000 Iraqis in 72 hours in the Najaf region, a US officer says, but this is denied by Iraq

-- Iraqi tanks make a surprise breakout of the besieged southern city of Basra but are destroyed by heavy bombardment, British officers say

-- US-led forces bombard the state television building in Baghdad, taking main TV channels briefly off the air

-- The Red Crescent distributes aid in southern Safwan

March 27:

-- Baghdad comes under early morning bombardment as the war enters its second week

-- Iraq says more than 350 civilians were killed in the first week

-- 1,000 US paratroopers parachute into the mountainous Kurdish-held north

-- Mines discovered in the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr delay the first shipment of British aid

-- Bush and Blair hold a summit, predicting certain victory while warning that the conflict could drag on.

-- The United Nations Security Council reaches agreement on a draft resolution that would reactivate the UN oil-for-food programme in Iraq

-- The United States has poured 90,000 troops into Iraq and is readying a further 120,000 for deployment from US and European bases, Pentagon officials say

-- Washington says 28 US servicemen have been killed during the first week. Of those, 22 suffered "hostile deaths" while four were killed in accidents and two in a grenade attack by a GI in Kuwait

March 28:

-- At least 30 people are killed in an air strike on a busy market in Baghdad, Iraqi officials say, in a day of furious air attacks from US-led forces

-- A British ship carrying tonnes of urgently needed humanitarian aid puts into the captured southern port of Umm Qasr, in the first major aid shipment to reach the country

-- Hundreds of Iraqi families flee the besieged city of Basra

-- The UN Security Council unanimously adopts a resolution allowing resumption of its "oil-for-food" programme for Iraq and the UN calls for 2.2 billion dollars to provide immediate humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people

March 29:

-- Intense air attacks strike Baghdad and its outskirts, including the information ministry building. Information Minister Mohammed Said al-Sahhaf says 62 people have been killed since Friday night in US-led air raids

-- A suicide car bombing kills four US soldiers in central Iraq, bringing the total US death toll since the war began to 34

-- Kuwait City is hit by an Iraqi missile, causing extensive damage to a seaside shopping mall

-- Coalition forces destroy a building hosting a meeting of some 200 members of Iraq's ruling Baath party in the Basra region, a US general says

-- Iraqi troops abandon frontlines near a Kurdish rebel-held town and move back towards the northern oil capital of Kirkuk

-- Iraq rejects the UN's "oil-for-food" resolution, which gives UN chief Kofi Annan 45 days to make purchases of food and medicine using income from UN-supervised Iraqi oil exports

March 30:

-- Iraq promises more suicide attacks against US and British soldiers, saying thousands more are prepared to die

-- US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld seeks to deflect a growing chorus of criticism of the US-led action but warns that "the most dangerous and difficult days are still ahead of us"

-- Hundreds of thousands of anti-war protesters march in Muslim Pakistan and Indonesia

-- Heavy bombardment of Baghdad

-- British PM Tony Blair says Iraq's oil revenue will be placed in a UN-supervised account

-- Iraq claims to have shot down a Harrier fighter and an Apache attack helicopter. US Central Command issues denial


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 Sunday, March 30, 2003



Civilian Casualty Update

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LATEST Hit on Ansar Al-Islam Camp Finds No Signs of Chemical Weapons :U.S. Special Forces troops went on the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in northeastern Iraq Saturday but came up empty-handed. The site they hit was identified by Secretary of State Colin Powell before the U.N. Security Council on Feb. 5 as a base for the radical group Ansar al-Islam. Powell showed a satellite photograph of what he said was a chemical weapons training center in northern Iraq used by al Qaeda and protected by Ansar al-Islam. "Special Forces teams, many of whom had trained for months for the Ansar raid, left base early in the morning for the camp. ABCNEWS was the only news organization allowed to join them.The base had been secured just hours earlier, after fierce combat against Ansar al-Islam fighters. The teams came to the camp expecting to find hard evidence Ansar al-Islam has biological and chemical weapons.What they found was a camp devastated by cruise missile strikes from the first days of the war. A specialized biochemical team scoured the rubble for samples. They wore protective masks as they entered a building they suspected was a weapons lab, but found nothing.

The Palestinian radical movement Islamic Jihad said Sunday that it had sent a first batch of its suicide bombers to Baghdad to fight invading US and British forces.The Al-Quds brigades, military wing of Islamic Jihad, "regales our people with the news of the arrival of the first batch of its suicide attackers in Baghdad," a statement sent to AFP said.It followed an Islamic Jihad suicide attack in the Israeli town of Netanya Sunday which killed the bomber and injured 26 people, and which the group said was "a gift from Palestine to the heroic people of Iraq."

A missile struck a residential neighborhood in central Baghdad on Sunday but there were no casualties, an AFP correspondent who visited the site said.An Iraqi information ministry official earlier said missiles had slammed into the neighborhood but gave no further details

In the first confirmation of Iraqi claims that Arab volunteers were entering the country to fight coalition troops, an unknown number of Syrians have arrived in the northern city of Mosul, Al-Jazeera television reported Sunday.The station said from the city that they had crossed into Iraq by unknown routes but without passing through established border posts. It showed pictures of them brandishing weapons and portraits of Iraqi President Saddam Husssein.

Iraqi forces have shot down a Harrier fighter and an Apache attack helicopter in central and southern Iraq respectively, Information Minister Mohammad Said al-Sahhaf said. He told a press conference the vertical take-off Harrier, which is used by Britain's Royal Air Force and the US Marine Corps, had exploded in flight after being hit by Baath party forces near Qadisiyah.

A truck has rammed into a group of soldiers at a US camp in northern Kuwait on Sunday local time, a US military spokesman said, but he had no details on casualties and could not confirm it was a deliberate attack. "Initial reports show there was a truck driven into a group of soldiers" in one of the many US camps in the north of the emirate, Colonel Gregory Julian said.

A group of people in south-eastern Turkey have showered trailer trucks carrying US military equipment with stones, breaking the windows of two vehicles, the Anatolia news agency reported. The stoning took place just as the convoy of 37 trailer trucks and four vans were coming into Sanliurfa, a mainly Arab-populated province lying along the border with Syria.

A general from Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's army has been captured in southern Iraq and is being pressed to provide strategic information, British officers said today.

Saddam vows to take war to U.S. homeland:Opening a chilling new chapter in the conflict, Iraq's Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan warned such suicide attacks would become "routine military policy" not only in Iraq but also the land of its enemy. "We will use any means to kill our enemy in our land and we will follow the enemy into its land," Mr. Ramadan said. He identified the bomber as a non-commissioned army officer and the father of several children. In another jolt to U.S. forces, the remains of what are believed to be U.S. marines were discovered in a shallow grave near the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriya, the scene of some of the fiercest fighting of the campaign so far

The United States has mistakenly named Slovenia as a partner in its war against Iraq.Slovenian Prime Minister Anton Rop says the US even offered his country a share of the money budgeted for the conflict. He says when asked for an explanation the US State Department admitted Slovenia was named in a document by mistake.Slovenia now will not get the $7.5 million it was mistakenly offered in the US war budget.

Current and former United States military officers have blamed the Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, and his aides for the inadequate troop strength on the ground in Iraq.They allege the civilian leaders "micromanaged" the deployment plan out of mistrust of the generals and in an attempt to prove their own theory that a light, manoeuvrable force could easily defeat Saddam Hussein.General Barry McCaffrey, who commanded a division during the 1991 Gulf War, said he told a senior member of Mr Rumsfeld's staff that the secretary's office had to stop meddling in the deployment and let army commanders have the units they believed they needed to fight

THE number of troops in the Gulf could be dramatically reduced if war drags on, Britain's leading soldier warned yesterday.General Sir Mike Jackson said: "This amount of commitment is not sustainable over a long period of time." He even suggested the fire dispute could hamper Britain's commitment in the Gulf."If this is dragging on in six months I expect forces to be cut from 45,000 to 5,000." As the US committed 100,000 more troops to war, Gen Jackson hinted thousands of soldiers could be sent to replace exhausted troops.

San Francisco's Bechtel Corp. inched closer Friday to winning a major government contract to rebuild Iraq, after a government source said that its rival Halliburton Co. may no longer be under consideration to lead the job. Halliburton, the Texas construction firm once run by Vice President Dick Cheney, would probably not be the prime company on the contract but could still have a hand in the work as a subcontractor, said Timothy Beans with the U.S. Agency for International Development.

In his newspaper article, Mr Robin Cook, who resigned as British Leader of the Commons in protest at the decision to launch hostilities without international agreement, denounced the campaign as "bloody and unnecessary". He also warned that Britain and the United States risked stoking up a "long-term legacy of hatred" for the West across the Arab and Muslim world. Mr Cook wrote: "I have already had my fill of this bloody and unnecessary war. "I want our troops home and I want them home before more of them are killed."

Iran "will not support" an Iraqi government installed by the United States - only one chosen democratically by the Iraqi people, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi said. "We will not support a government installed by the Americans in Iraq," Mr Kharazi told a press conference in Iraq. "Such a government is an imposed government."We can only respect a government if it is established under the supervision of the United Nations and has been chosen by the vote of the Iraqis themselves."

Ahmad Chalabi, 57, an urbane, British-educated former banker who used to be based in Knightsbridge, hoped that the Americans would support his plans to lead an Iraqi interim authority. By Friday, his hopes had been largely dashed when Zalmay Khalilzad, President Bush's special envoy to the Iraqi opposition, refused to back his proposals.

An explosion rocked an empty shopping mall on the waterfront early today in Kuwait City, the capital, sending a huge plume of white smoke towering into the sky. Some Kuwaiti officials who examined the fragments said they believed an errant American cruise missile had been fired from the Persian Gulf toward Iraq."It was an American cruise missile, we know from the markings and writing on it," said a Kuwaiti police colonel who did not give his name. "It doesn't go up, it comes in low from the sea, and that's why there was no alert."

U.S. engineers moved through Iraq's vast southern Rumaila oilfields on Sunday, shutting down wellheads in an operation that could take months to complete.Having discovered a cache of arms and a minefield, U.S. troops must tread carefully in their mission to safeguard the region's oilfields which pumped more than half Iraq's 1.7 million barrels per day (bpd) exports before the war began.


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LATEST Rockets have been fired at the international peacekeepers' compound in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, police say.National police chief Haroun Azzefi says one of two rockets landed in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) compound, which is close to the US embassy and presidential compound.

Even as the United States military campaign against Iraq was being directed out of headquarters in the Arab emirate of Qatar, counterterror experts expressed concern Thursday that the tiny Persian Gulf state's security chief is an Al Qaeda sympathizer.U.S. counterterrorism authorities have long believed that Qatar's interior minister, Sheik Abdullah bin Khalid al-Thani, has sheltered terrorists -- including the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11 hijacking plot, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed -- in and around his farm compound near the capital of Doha. One former CIA agent familiar with the situation described Al-Thani as a potential danger to U.S. troops operating out of Central Command headquarters in Doha -- especially if the war in Iraq drags on or incites Muslim hostilities in the region.

President Jacques Chirac has ordered his officials to draw up plans for a French-language, international television channel to counter the growing influence of the BBC and CNN.He has demanded that the blueprint for the service - already nicknamed "CNN a la Francaise" - be ready by the end of next month as he has become increasingly irritated by the "Anglo-Saxon" view of global events which is being beamed into millions of homes and hotel rooms around the world.He also wants to challenge America's domination of international affairs by extending French language and influence.

About 26 people were injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a cafe in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya, north of Tel Aviv.Eyewitnesses say the bomber tried to enter the London Cafe in Netanya as it was crowded with lunchtime patrons but was prevented from doing so by security guards. The first indications were that the bomb was relatively small compared to those used in recent attacks.

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Civilian Casualty Update

British soldiers and a child hurt in the Iraq market bombing

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LATEST Almost 85 percent of the British soldiers killed so far in Iraq have died in accidents or "friendly fire." Troops killed in helicopter accidents, pilots shot down by U.S. missiles, tank crews shot dead by their own side -- that has been the almost daily litany from the frontline. Just four of the 23 British war dead in Iraq so far were killed in combat

The toll of US military personnel killed in Iraq has risen to 34, as leading US newspapers said President George W. Bush faced a "torrent of questions" and was "on the defensive" about his war plan.The Pentagon announced that the remains of a Marine earlier listed as missing had been found.US officials said four US soldiers died when the driver of a taxi detonated a bomb near the central Iraqi city of Najaf.In addition, 15 were listed as missing, 104 wounded in action and seven taken as prisoners of war since the US-led war to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein began on March 20.

A bomber posing as a taxi driver summoned American troops for help, then blew up his vehicle Saturday, killing himself and four soldiers and opening a new chapter of carnage in the war for Iraq Iraq's vice president said such attacks would be "routine military policy" in Iraq — and, he suggested chillingly, in the United States. Saddam Hussein gave the bomber a posthumous promotion to colonel and two medals — Al-Rafidin, or The Two Rivers, and the Mother of All Battles, state TV reported. "We will use any means to kill our enemy in our land and we will follow the enemy into its land," Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan said at a Baghdad news conference. "This is just the beginning. You'll hear more pleasant news later."

The Pentagon has no plans to allow media access to a U.S. Air Force base receiving the bodies of American soldiers killed in Iraq, a Defense Department spokeswoman said on Friday. The remains of 18 soldiers killed in the Iraq campaign and six who died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan have arrived at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware since Tuesday. Each time, a military chaplain has uttered prayers and an honor guard has carried flag-draped aluminum coffins to waiting vehicles.

After a rapid advance of more than 500kilometres from Kuwait to within 80kilometres of Baghdad, it's been reported that coalition land forces are exhausted, some are surviving on one meal ration a day and fuel supplies are low.Unnamed Pentagon officials say the pause will last for four to six days to allow the convoys of food, water and fuel to reach the 100,000 or so troops now ringing Baghdad's southern edges. The flaw in the coalition's military plan that has forced the pause was an expectation that the Shi'ite-dominated south of Iraq would rise up in support of the war effort, creating an unstoppable military and propaganda momentum that would carry the troops to Baghdad to meet the elite Republican Guard in Saddam Hussein's stronghold.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said Sunday that Washington would stay on course with its military plan to oust Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, despite a growing chorus of criticism of the US-led invasion of Iraq. He called the current US military strategy to overthrow the Iraqi regime "excellent." "All the second guessers seem to be people who haven't seen the plan."Rumsfeld cautioned however that the going might get even tougher for US and British forces in Iraq

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld repeatedly rejected advice from Pentagon planners that substantially more troops and armor would be needed to fight a war in Iraq New Yorker Magazine reported. Rumsfeld insisted at least six times in the run-up to the conflict that the proposed number of ground troops be sharply reduced and got his way. Rumsfeld had overruled advice from war commander Gen. Tommy Franks to delay the invasion until troops denied access through Turkey could be brought in by another route and miscalculated the level of Iraqi resistance. "They've got no resources. He was so focused on proving his point -- that the Iraqis were going to fall apart," the article, by veteran journalist Seymour Hersh, cited an unnamed former high-level intelligence official as saying.

Iraqi Information Minister Mohammad Saeed al-Sahhaf Saturday said a total of 140 Iraqis were killed and 351 others injured by U.S.-British air strikes on the country since Friday.He said in a daily briefing in the capital, Baghdad, that 68 "were martyred only in Baghdad since last night's bombing, and 107 injured."He added that 28 were killed and 48 others wounded in Anbar, three dead and 22 injured in Babel, six dead and 52 wounded in Karbala and 35 killed and 122 others wounded in Najaf.

Iraq has rejected a new United Nations Security Council resolution renewing the seven-year-old oil-for-food program under UN secretary-general Kofi Annan. Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Said al-Sahaf told a press conference that only Iraq can administer the program

Several US cruise missiles fired towards Iraq have landed in Saudi Arabia, a senior US commander said."In the case of Saudi Arabia, we did have a number of T-LAM missiles that were reported down in their territory," Major-General Victor Renuart told a news conference in Qatar. Major-General Renuart said the problem had occured shortly after the launch phase of the missiles. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________


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LATEST If North Korea were about to launch a missile at Japan, it would not be unconstitutional to make a pre-emptive attack on the launch site, Japan's defense chief said Sunday.

Four gunmen on motorcycles ambushed a US special forces patrol in southern Afghanistan, killing two Americans and wounding a third, US and Afghan officials said.Three Afghan soldiers were also wounded.

US B-52 bombers and helicopters pounded areas in southern Afghanistan on Saturday local time, where fugitives of the ousted Taliban regime were believed to be hiding, an Afghan official said. Hundreds of Afghan and US forces have rushed to Sangisak, about 70 kilometres north of Kandahar, to flush out the Taliban, Kandahar police spokesman Safiullah said.

North Korea has vowed to strengthen its military defences, saying it would fend off what it called the "miserable fate" that had befallen Iraq. A commentary in the state-run newspaper of the ruling Korean Workers' Party, Rodong Sinmun, said that what was happening in Iraq was a result of concession and compromise

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 Saturday, March 29, 2003



Civilian Casualty Update

LATEST Five US soldiers died Saturday morning when the driver of a taxi detonated a bomb at a roadblock north of the Iraqi city of Najaf, US Captain Andrew Valles said.A taxicab drove up to the checkpoint and the driver waved his hand "indicating he needed some help," Valles said.

The heavy bombardment came as an Iraqi missile hit Kuwait City for the first time, landing just offshore but causing serious damage to the country's largest shopping center. Two people were slightly hurt.

A missile struck a market in western Baghdad on Friday afternoon, killing more than 50 people - most of them children - and wounding dozens of others in the Iraqi capital, television reports said.The Qatar-based station Al-Jazeera said 55 people were killed, many of them children. Al Arabiya television put the toll at 52, and said the market was located in a residential area.Issa Ali Ilwan, a surgeon at nearby Al-Nour Hospital, said at least 47 were killed and at least 50 injured

U.S. commanders have ordered a pause of four to six days in a northward push toward Baghdad because of supply shortages and stiff Iraqi resistance, U.S. military officers said on Saturday. They said the "operational pause," ordered on Friday, meant that advances would be put on hold while the military tried to sort out logistics problems caused by long supply lines from neighboring Kuwait.

Russian intelligence agents are holding daily meetings with Iraqi officials in Baghdad, and may be interested in gaining control of Iraqi secret service archives if Saddam Hussein's regime falls, the newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported Friday.The newspaper said the archives could be highly valuable to Russia in three major areas: in protecting Russian interests that remain in a postwar Iraq; in determining to what extent the Saddam regime may have financed Russian political parties and movements; and in providing Russia access to intelligence that Iraqi agents conducted in other countries.

Syria denies charges by the Bush administration that it is helping Iraq with military supplies.US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has accused Syria of committing what he called a "hostile act" by supplying military aid, including night vision goggles, to Iraq.

British defence officials say that no British troops had been reported missing overnight despite reports that up to five had been captured in Basra.A news report quoting a British officer in the area said four to five soldiers had been kidnapped.

Villagers in southeastern Turkey on Saturday threw eggs and stones at a team of US experts as they arrived in the region to collect a US missile accidentally misfired on Turkey, the Anatolia news agency reported.

Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix said Friday he will leave his job at the end of June, with disappointment that his teams weren't given a few more months to try to disarm Iraq peacefully.

The United Nations Security Council has voted unanimously to approve tapping billions of dollars in Iraqi oil revenues to purchase food and medicine in a bid to avert a humanitarian crisis in the war. UN secretary-general Kofi Annan suspended the program and evacuated more than 300 relief workers who monitor the distribution of supplies shortly before US and British forces arrived in Iraq.

An estimated 30,000 people have marched through Melbourne to protest against the war in Iraq.The crowd, including children, parents and representatives from political and religious communities, marched from the State Library through the city and up to Treasury Place.An American flag was burnt at the steps of the treasury building before live music and speeches were heard by the crowd

Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace ignited the ire of the White House by observing publicly that Pentagon war strategists had misunderstood the combativeness of Iraqi fighters. The miscalculation, he said, had stalled the coalition's drive toward Baghdad.
"The enemy we're fighting against is different from the one we'd war-gamed against," Wallace, commander of V Corps, told The New York Times and The Washington Post on Thursday.

American police have arrested a group of 75 monks, priests, rabbis and other clergy at an anti-war protest in San Fransisco.A dozen other protesters linked with plastic piping were arrested near the White House in Washington DC. The arrests were the latest of several thousand detentions nationwide since the war began.



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 Friday, March 28, 2003



Civilian Casualty Update

LATEST A senior BBC News executive today admitted that the reporting of allied military claims in Iraq that later prove false, such as heralding the fall of Umm Qasr at least nine times, had "left the public feeling less well-informed than it should be".Mark Damazer, the deputy director of BBC News, also admitted the BBC had been making mistakes "on a daily basis" during the first week of the Iraq conflict, but denied there was any deliberate bias towards either the pro or anti-war camps.

Defence analysts comment on fight for Baghdad Here are the comments from military analysts on how they think the battle for Baghdad will evolve:(click to read more)

Marching in front of news reporters and cameras, protesters staged a demonstration outside of Cable News Network's San Francisco bureau today to denounce what they believe is unbalanced media coverage of the war in Iraq. Some protesters laid small white coffins bearing pictures of children on the sidewalk and others chanted, "independent journalism is dead and gone when the media is in bed with the Pentagon." Organizers say they selected CNN because it is one of the most watched American news networks in the world and they feel it should be a leader in unbiased and accurate coverage.


LATEST An El Salvadorean Red Cross aid worker has been shot dead by unidentified attackers in southern Afghanistan, the International Committee of the Red Cross says.Ricardo Munguia, 39, was killed on Thursday while travelling with Afghan colleagues to check on water supplies in the town of Tirin Kot, the ICRC said in a statement."(Munguia) was shot in cold blood by a group of unidentified assailants who stopped the vehicles in which the ICRC staff were travelling," it said.

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 Thursday, March 27, 2003



AL-JAZEERA has a website in English at

Link to a mysterious Iraqi weblogger who calls himself Salam Pax, writing from the heart of Baghdad at

Civilian Casualty Update

LATEST The proposal to transfer control of the oil-for-food program to the United Nations secretary-general has so far stalled over differences in the Security Council rooted in the opposition to the U.S.-led move to overthrow Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.Diplomats say that permanent Security Council members Russia, France and China, which oppose the war, object to a resolution that would authorize UN coordination with U.S. and British forces in Iraq. They believe this would signal that the military action was legitimate.

Al Jazeera television on Wednesday broadcast video of two dead soldiers and two prisoners of war, all said to be British. The video showed bloodied bodies in uniform, lying on their backs on a road. The two prisoners were shown briefly, looking sombre and uneasy, but there was no audio. The Arabic-language television network, monitored in Dubai, said it obtained the video following fighting at Zubayr, near the southern Iraqi city of Basra, over the past two days. It did not say who supplied the video.

United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan has expressed deep concern over casualties in Iraq. "I must say I am getting increasingly concerned by the humanitarian casualties in this conflict," he said. "We just had the report that a missile struck a market in Baghdad and I want to remind all belligerents they have to respect the international humanitarian laws and take all necessary steps to protect civilians. "Besides they are responsible for the welfare of the civilian population in the area," he said.

An eyewitness told today of the heaviest battle of the war so far which left 750 Iraqis dead. Sean Naylor of the American Army Times quoted a US soldier describing the fighting as so intense that "it looks like Apocalypse Now". Naylor also described the destruction of American tanks, rocket-propelled grenade assaults and deadly air strikes called in on the Iraqi attackers. The battle came when a US armoured column of the 7th Cavalry was caught in a deadly ambush by hundreds of Iraqi soldiers on the road to Baghdad at Najaf. Although first reports suggested there were no American dead, intelligence sources in Washington said it was feared the Allies may have taken "heavy casualties". US Abrams tanks were hit by Iraqi missiles fired from tripods mounted on the back of pick-up trucks. Tanks exchanged fire on both sides and vicious close-quarters skirmishes continued even after the Iraqis took heavy losses.

For the first time since the U.S.-led war against Iraq began last week, the divided U.N. Security Council called an open meeting where any of the 191 U.N. member states can express their views on the military campaign to oust Saddam Hussein.Arab and non-aligned nations demanding an end to war in Iraq and the immediate withdrawal of the invasion force asked for Wednesday's council meeting, which is likely to continue on Thursday and attract at least 50 speakers.It was not clear whether the 22-member Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, which represents about 115 mainly developing countries, would introduce a resolution demanding a halt to the fighting and withdrawal of all foreign forces.

At least 15 scorched corpses littered a Baghdad street on Wednesday after enraged residents said two U.S. missiles slammed into a poor district during intensified air raids on the city.Reuters correspondents counted at least 15 bodies lying in the street in Baghdad's Shaab district, amid blackened and mangled cars and rubble from broken buildings. "There are at least 13 killed and some 30 injured. Two missiles hit the street," local civil defense official Haneed Dulaimi told Reuters. Yelling residents pulled a man with a bloody head from the rubble.U.S. and British spokesmen said they had no immediate information on the explosions. If the missile strike is confirmed, it will be a major setback for British and U.S. efforts to reduce public opposition to the wear by minimizing civilian casualties. Air raids began at dawn on the seventh day of the war and rumbled on sporadically through the daylight hours.

Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf said Wednesday Iraqi forces still control Umm Qasr, refuting allied claims they seized the city. He also accused them of using internationally-prohibited cluster bombs in shelling Baghdad and other areas.Al-Sahhaf told reporters in Baghdad that crew members of 12 coalition armored personnel carriers and tanks were killed, one warplane and a predator drone were shot down, at least three other tanks were also destroyed.On Iraq he said 13 people were killed and 537 others wounded by the U.S.-British shelling, mostly because of their usage of cluster bombs.

Nasiriya spans the Euphrates River in southern Iraq. American commanders had hoped for different scenes in Iraqi towns, which, at least in the south, had been widely expected to welcome the allied invasion. American bombs, dropped on the city this morning after the Sunday fighting, may have killed as many as 10 Iraqi civilians and injured as many as 200. "No Iraqi will support what the Americans are doing here," said a Nasiriya resident named Nawaf. "I saw how the Americans bombed our civilians with my own eyes," Mustafa Muhammad Ali, a medical assistant at the Saddam Hospital in Nasiriya.said. He added that he had no love for the Iraqi president, but said that the American failure to discriminate between enemy fighters and Iraqi civilians had turned him decisively against the invasion.

The leader of the biggest Iraqi opposition group said Tuesday that Iraqis would fight any U.S. domination after Saddam Hussein is toppled."Coalition forces are welcome in Iraq as long as they help the Iraqi people get rid of Saddam's dictatorship, but Iraqis will resist if they seek to occupy or colonize our country," said Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, leader of the Tehran-based Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.Such resistance, the Shiite leader told a news conference in Tehran, would include "the use of force and arms."

An Iraqi Shi'ite Muslim opposition group said on Wednesday there had been disturbances, but no uprising, in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.A spokesman for the Tehran-based Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) said there were "some disturbances" in Basra. Asked if this amounted to an uprising, the spokesman, Abu Islam, said: "No, there is no uprising."

The reluctance of a majority of the Shia population to rise up and welcome the United States and British troops besieging Basra, Iraq's second largest city and the soft under belly of Saddam Hussein's regime, is turning out to be one of the biggest conundrums of the current campaign.

The Human Rights Watch on Tuesday castigated both the Iraqi and American governments for violations of the Geneva Convention with regard to display of prisoners of war.The Iraqi government has already been criticised widely for its telecast of pictures of US POWs and dead coalition soldiers. HRW also alleged that this was not the first time that Secretary Rumsfeld had been unresponsive to concerns that the United States may be acting in violation of the Geneva Convention. The rights body had previously criticised the US government for its treatment of captured persons during the war in Afghanistan, particularly the failure to determine the legal status of those held in Guantanamo Bay.

Switzerland has refused a US request to expel Iraqi diplomats and order the closure of Iraq's embassy here, the Swiss foreign ministry said on Wednesday

A large contingent of Iraq's elite Republican Guard headed south in a 1,000-vehicle convoy Wednesday toward U.S. Marines in central Iraq — an area that already has seen the heaviest fighting of the war. The advance appeared to signal that the Republican Guard, Saddam Hussein's best trained and most loyal force, was still prepared to take the offensive despite days of allied air strikes and missile attacks on its positions.

Coalition airstrikes hit targets in and around Baghdad today as U.S. ground troops engaged Iraqi Republican Guard units in central Iraq in the biggest battle of the war so far.

Japan Wednesday rejected a U.S. request to close the Iraqi Embassy in Tokyo, saying it was important to maintain diplomatic channels with Baghdad."There is no need to close the embassy," Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said. "It is up to Japan to make its own decision" on the issue.

The Dominican Republic's Foreign Minister Hugo Tolentino Dipp resigned in protest against the government's support of US-led military action in Iraq, an official in the ministry confirmed Wednesday.Tolentino sent a letter to President Hipolito Mejia to announce his resignation, according to the official, who asked not to be identified.

As U.S. and British forces bear down on Baghdad, international peace observers report that far from "shock and awe", Iraqi civilians feel bewildered and confused."People just ask why? They stress the point that they are not criminals and never wanted to attack the United States. It doesn't make logical sense to them," said Kathy Kelly, head of a group of activists who have been in Baghdad since October. Speaking to Reuters by telephone, she said ordinary Iraqi's were struggling to understand Washington's talk of liberating Iraq, given the "viciousness" of the strikes, now in their seventh day.

EARLY HOPES that the thunderous power and shock effect of the bomb and missile attacks might topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein have given way to more sober predictions of a longer-term war. Despite the air assault, mass surrenders of Iraqi troops have not occurred, and some military chain of command still appears to be functioning.Military officials involved in the air campaign said one of their biggest surprises has been the lack of any challenge from Iraq’s air force. Since the start of the fighting, not a single Iraqi aircraft has taken to the skies, the officials said.Officials declined to provide estimates of Iraqi casualties or the extent of damage done to Republican Guard troops so far, except to say that U.S. and British planes have destroyed a substantial number of tanks, armored personnel carriers and artillery pieces.


Both Pakistan and India say they have carried out test-launches of short-range, nuclear-capable missiles on Wednesday. The Indian defence ministry first said it had concluded a successful launch of its Prithvi surface-to-surface missile from the Chandipur test site in eastern Orissa state. Shortly afterwards the Pakistani foreign ministry said it had test-fired an Abdali missile. Pakistan said it had informed India about its launch but that it was taken by surprise by the Indian test-firing.

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 Wednesday, March 26, 2003



AL-JAZEERA has a website in English at

Link to a mysterious Iraqi weblogger who calls himself Salam Pax, writing from the heart of Baghdad at

Civilian Casualty Update

LATEST U.N. Security Council Tuesday agreed to requests from the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement for all members of the world organization to join in a formal debate on the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq to unseat President Saddam Hussein.The open meeting was to begin at 3 p.m. EST Wednesday.

A mysterious Iraqi who calls himself Salam Pax, writing a Web log from the heart of Baghdad, has developed a large internet following with his wry accounts of daily life in a city under US bombardment. Salam Pax, a pseudonym crafted from the Arabic and Latin words for peace, came back on line today after a two-day break because of interruptions in internet access. Salam, who writes in English, is the only resident of Iraq known to be filing accounts of the war directly to the web.

Two British tank crew members were killed by "friendly fire" from another British tank near Iraq's southern city of Basra, officials said on Tuesday.The latest casualties in Britain's accident-prone military campaign took to 22 the number of British servicemen who have now been listed as dead or missing in the U.S.-led war against Baghdad. Only two of those were killed in action.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan told U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday that the United States is legally responsible for providing humanitarian aid to Iraqis "gravely affected by the war" in areas controlled by coalition forces. Annan stressed to Rice that the United Nations was prepared to provide humanitarian assistance but could not until security conditions allowed the safe return of U.N. staff, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said. "Until then, humanitarian assistance would have to be provided by the United States and its coalition partners in those areas under their control," he said. Russia and other Security Council members emphasize that under the Geneva Conventions, occupying forces are responsible for providing humanitarian goods to sustain the population.

Fierce sandstorm sweeps through Baghdad. Visibility severely reduced by the sandstorm and by pollution caused by oil set ablaze

Royal Marines were deployed to Iraq's border with Iran yesterday in a move that will unnerve Teheran's regime, which fears encirclement by American-led forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. But with Iranian troops manning positions on the other side of the Shatt al-Arab waterway, British forces face a highly sensitive task. Tensions were illustrated by a succession of border incidents. A rocket struck an Iranian oil refinery depot in Abadan, just across from Basra, on Friday injuring two people while there were reports on Monday that Iranian forces had fired on British troops on the Faw peninsula.

US Coalition forces have advanced to within 90 kilometres of Baghdad. They´ve already been engaged in heavy exchanges of gunfire with Saddam Hussein's elite Republican Guard manning defensive positions around the Iraqi capital

An Iraqi committed a suicide attack in the southern region of Fao overnight and destroyed a tank of the US-British alliance, an Iraqi military spokesman said Tuesday. "The first suicide attack was carried out this night," Hazem al-Rawi told a press conference in Baghdad. The attack was carried out in the Faw peninsula which British forces say they have secured. An Iraqi civilian "penetrated behind enemy lines and destroyed a tank", the spokesman said, without giving details.

An F-16 fighter jet mistakenly bombed a Patriot missile battery in Iraq, knocking out its radar but causing no casualties, a US defense official said Tuesday.The incident occurred Monday 1230 GMT about 30 miles from An Najaf, the official said."It was hit. Nobody was injured or killed," said the official, who asked not to be identified.

Both sides are girding for the coming battle of Baghdad as US armoured columns advanced from two directions, coming within 80km of the capital before sandstorm - and a formidable Iraqi army - forced a delay. The storm has cut visibility to as few as 20 metres, severely restricting the operations of air support. Columns of tanks, artillery and other vehicles were reduced to a crawl. Reports suggest the storms may intensify and possibly hamper operations for several days.

Thousands of Iraqi exiles have been returning home over the past week from Jordan, with many insisting they want to defend their country against US and British "invaders." Jordanian records show that 5,284 Iraqis have crossed the desert border overland into Iraq since March 16, Col Ahmad al-Hazaymeh, director of Jordan's al Karama border post, said yesterday. Iraq's consular office in Amman said yesterday it issued at least 3,000 temporary passports for exiled Iraqis in the past three days. Of those, half have already returned to Iraq, spokesman Jawad al-Ali said.

Iran, which has reported several violations of its airspace by U.S and British jets attacking Iraq, said on Monday it might fire on aircraft which enter its skies. But it played down the significance of apparently errant missiles landing on its territory and said such incidents were the natural consequence of living next door to a war zone.

Tensions between Turkey and the United States were dramatically heightened yesterday with President George Bush warning its NATO ally to keep out of Iraq and the Turkish Prime Minister replying within hours why his country had to do the opposite."My point is that those who live far away ... cannot have the same sensitivities [as Turkey]. For us this is a fire that has broken out in our neighbourhood," the Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said in Turkey's first state of the nation televised address.He cited Australia as being among countries involved in the Iraqi war which were largely immune to its direct economic and political aftermath.

A humanitarian disaster is looming in the city of Basra, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says. More than a million civilians have been without clean water or electricity in the city since Friday as fighting rages outside.The United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, made an urgent appeal yesterday for water supplies to be rushed in.Desperate civilians are drinking water from the river in Basra, the United Nations Children's Fund said. Raw sewage is dumped in the river, rousing fears of a disease outbreak.The Wafa al-Qaed water treatment plant, which usually supplies most of Basra, has been out of action since Friday when the electricity cables to the plant were destroyed.

Coalition forces have quelled Iraqi resistance in the key port of Umm Qasr which is now under "total control", a senior British officer told AFP on Tuesday."Umm Qasr is under total control. The clean-up operation is over," said the officer on the sixth day of the war.

Syria protested to the US and Britain last night after a US missile killed five Syrian workers and injured 10 who were fleeing the war in a bus.The vehicle, which was carrying 37 passengers, was struck on the Iraqi side of the Syrian border on Sunday morning as it stopped for a rest break in Rutba.The Pentagon admitted last night that the bus had been accidentally bombed as it was crossing a bridge.

34 die as US missiles hit wrong target : Four missiles hit Khormal, a large neighbouring village in northern Iraq. Komala's military garrison was also hit, killing Mr Saeed and at least 33 other people. As volunteers pulled corpses and body parts from the smouldering ruins of the compound yesterday, Mr Saeed's widow Aisha and 10 children wanted to know only one thing: why had America killed him? Refugees who poured out of Khormal yesterday also wanted to know why a superpower that prided itself on the accuracy of its weaponry appeared to have got it wrong. "The US has committed an injustice. It needs to be more careful about civilians," Tafir Abdulla said, as he fled town in a lorry loaded with his belongings.

Guerrilla tactics vs. US war plan: Casualties mount for US as fedayeen fighters mix among civilians and gird for urban warfare.Some of the toughest Iraqi forces - Republican Guard units and the paramilitary "Fedayeen Saddam" - have come out to meet US and British forces, mingling among civilians, attacking supply-and-maintenance units, and forcing the kind of close-in urban fight the US and its allies had hoped to avoid.

The United Nations refused yesterday to surrender responsibility for disarming Iraq to the United States and Britain, with Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General, saying he expected UN weapons inspections to resume. Mr. Annan said according to rules set by the UN Security Council only UN weapons inspectors can determine whether Iraq is clean."[The inspections] have only been suspended temporarily because it's inoperable given the situation on the ground," Mr. Annan said. He added the inspectors planned to resume their work as soon as it was safe to return.His statement sets the stage for more friction with Washington, which has been quietly hiring its own experts to verify whether weapons found violate the 1991 Gulf War truce banning chemical, biological or nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

Al-Jazeera went live early yesterday with its English-language Web site -- and the Qatar-based satellite network immediately assumed a posture likely to provoke Western readers. The site ( has promised to offer a different perspective than those of Western media and has stuck to its word. Its graphic photos of dead U.S. soldiers, pointed headlines and opinionated articles -- many of them without reporters' bylines -- will provide plenty of fodder for critics of the Middle Eastern news organization. The content is produced separately from its Arabic-language counterpart.

Two pilots from the Apache helicopter captured by the Iraqis

Iraqi state television on Monday showed two men said to have been the U.S. crew of an Apache helicopter forced down during heavy fighting in central Iraq. The men were identified as Chief Warrant Officer Ronald D. Young Jr., 26, of Lithia Springs, Ga., and Chief Warrant Officer David S. Williams, 30, of Orlando, Fla. Iraq's U.N. Ambassador Mohammed Al-Douri said Monday his government would allow the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit the prisoners, as called for in the Geneva Conventions."I can assure you that our religion, our customs, our social values, order us to protect those prisoners and to protect their life," he said in an interview with Associated Press Television News.



North Korea has announced its withdrawal from liaison meetings with United States military officers in protest at ongoing American military drills with Southern forces. The two countries have no diplomatic ties but their armies do meet regularly at the border to discuss security issues.

North Korea has told Japan it will face self-destruction if it pushes ahead with its plan to launch a spy satellite into orbit this week.The official Korean Central News Agency has accused Japan of acting as "a shock brigade" for the launch of a US pre-emptive attack and nuclear war against North Korea.

Anti-war protesters have burned the American flag during a rowdy student rally outside Sydney's Town Hall.While some in the crowd listened to speakers, others threw chairs and glass bottles at police.There have been several arrests and police injuries.Three officers have been taken to Sydney Hospital with minor injuries.

No more Coca-Cola or Budweiser, no Marlboro, no American whiskey or even American Express cards -- a growing number of restaurants in Germany are taking everything American off their menus to protest the war in Iraq.Although the protests are mainly symbolic, waiters in dozens of bars and restaurants in Hamburg, Berlin, Munich, Bonn and other German cities are telling patrons, "Sorry, Coca-Cola is not available any more due to the current political situation."

U.S. President George W. Bush on 24 March telephoned President Vladimir Putin to express his concern about alleged transfers of high-technology military equipment by Russian companies to the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.Iraqi Information Minister Muhammad Sa'id al-Sahhaf on 25 March rejected U.S. claims that Russia provided Baghdad with military hardware in violation of UN sanctions.Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said on 24 March that Russia has been strictly complying with the sanctions regime imposed against Iraq by the UN Security Council and that Moscow has supplied no military equipment to Iraq since the early 1980s.Primakov, who is currently the head of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, quoted a statement that he attributed to former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, who said the United Kingdom and the United States supplied sophisticated military equipment to Hussein's regime.

A potential General Assembly action for peace prompts the US to launch a preemptive attack against the United Nations. All over the world, governments and civil society groups are proposing to take the US-led attack on Iraq to the UN General Assembly under a procedure known as “Uniting for Peace.” The US is so alarmed that it has launched a preemptive attack with a letter to all countries in the world which “demands” that they avoid “calls for an emergency session of the General Assembly.”

Russia "backs the demand" of the Arab League for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on the US-led invasion of Iraq which could take place as early as Tuesday, a senior Russian diplomat said

The New York Stock Exchange said Tuesday it had banned reporters from the Arabic-language TV network Al-Jazeera from its trading floor, sparking charges of retaliation for the channel's coverage of the Iraq war.The satellite channel has made daily broadcasts from the New York Stock Exchange for several years.On its regular morning financial broadcast, Al-Jazeera said the accreditations had been withdrawn "because of al-Jazeera's coverage of the war on Iraq."Pellecchia confirmed that Al-Jazeera was the only network to have its existing accreditations rescinded, but refused to comment on the charge that the move was purely retaliatory in nature.

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Civilian Casualty Update

THE crucial push for Baghdad began last night as allied warplanes bombarded the Republican Guard to clear the way for troops to zero in on President Saddam Hussein. The American vanguard was within 20 miles of 30,000 Republican Guards defending a city blanketed in black smoke from pyres of burning oil. Thousands more allied troops were rushing north to form a front line for the battle that will decide the war. Yesterday the Republican Guard’s Medina Division was pummelled continuously by bombers working on information from SAS, SBS and Delta forces close to Iraqi positions.

Geneva Convention on treatment of POWs

Adopted on August 12, 1949, at a conference in Geneva on protecting war victims, it came into force on October 21, 1950.

Article 13 states: "Prisoners of war must at all times be humanely treated ... Prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity."

Article 14 states: "Prisoners of war are entitled in all circumstances to respect for the persons and their honour."

LATEST The United States military has confirmed that one of its Apache helicopters has come down in Iraq. Iraqi television showed pictures of the helicopter, which it said was shot down near the city of Kerbala, 110 kilometres (70 miles) south-west of Baghdad

US General Tommy Franks says the two crewmen of an Apache Longbow helicopter shot down south of Baghdad are missing."The fate of the crew is uncertain right now, we characterise that crew, two men, as missing in action," General Franks told a news briefing at Central Command in Qatar. He said the helicopter was one of between 30 and 40 attacking a particular area. He denied that it had been shot down by farmers, as claimed by Iraq, but did not say what had forced it out of the air in Iraqi-held territory.

Apache helicopter downed in Iraqi hands.

A Syrian bus inside Iraq carrying 37 Syrian civilian passengers was hit by a U.S. missile Monday, killing five and injuring at least 15, according to Syrian government officials. The bus, filled with passengers trying to flee Iraq and the war, was about 140 kilometers from the Iraq-Syrian border when it was hit. "This is a pure act of savagery, an outrageous and unjustifiable attack on innocent civilians," said a Syrian government official. The Syrian government also told CNN that there were no "justifiable targets" in the area where the bus was hit.

Iraq's information minister said on Monday that 62 Iraqis had been killed by U.S.-led forces in the previous 24 hours and more than 400 had been wounded.Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf gave the figures at a news conference, breaking them down by city. In Baghdad, 194 people had been wounded in bombing but none had been killed. The most deaths were 30 in Babel, south of Baghdad, and 14 in Basra.He said there were also deaths and injuries in the southern towns of Najaf and Kerbala, in the southern province Qadisiya and in the northern provinces of Ninawa and Salah ad Din.

The US on Sunday made public its protest to Moscow over the sales by Russian companies of anti-tank missiles and jamming equipment to the Iraqi military.The State Department on Sunday voiced its anger at the Kremlin after a series of private requests as recently as last week by senior US government officials to Russia to halt the sales went ignored."Such equipment in the hands of Iraq may pose a direct threat to US and coalition armed forces," Brenda Greenberg, a State Department official, told CNN. "We thus have raised the issue with the Russian government a number of times, including at senior levels and particularly in the last two weeks. "Moscow's response had "so far not been satisfactory", Ms Greenberg said. Officials said the sales could help Iraqis endanger the lives of US and British forces

The U.S. 101st Airborne Division soldier accused of killing an officer and wounding 15 fellow soldiers is a Muslim who made anti-American statements after he was apprehended, according to soldiers who survived the attack. Military authorities identified the suspect, who was being questioned but had not been charged, as Sgt. Asan Akbar, 31.Akbar appears to have spent much of his youth in California. Officials at University of California, Davis, said a student named Asan Akbar, who also used the name Mark Fidel Kools, graduated in 1997. Akbar is believed to have studied at the Masjid Bilal Islamic Center, a mosque in Los Angeles.



Singapore's government on Monday ordered about 740 people who may have been exposed to victims of a mysterious flu-like illness to stay home for 10 days in a bid to contain the disease. Separately, Hong Kong's hospital chief has fallen ill with pneumonia symptoms and officials said Monday two more victims of the disease have died in Hong Kong.Singapore Health Minister Lim Hng Kiang said he was invoking the Infectious Diseases Act for what could be the first time since Singapore gained independence in 1965. The city state of 4 million people has recorded 65 cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, including 14 new cases reported on Monday, Lim said. Twelve patients are in serious condition in an intensive care unit, he added.

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 Tuesday, March 25, 2003


Police in the German city of Bielefeld have charged two men on suspicion of trying to supply rocket components to Iraq. Public prosecutors said the two men are both German citizens but one is of Iraqi origin. They are accused of breaching export rules. Investigators say one of the suspects has admitted that he and his business partner met with three Iraqi generals in a series of meetings at Iraqi military bases near Baghdad last December.

Germany has stepped back from a threat to withdraw its military crew from AWACS reconnaissance planes deployed in a NATO mission over Turkey. Germany has provided the AWACS crew members for defensive purposes only, to help safeguard Turkey - a NATO ally. Berlin now says that it plans to push the NATO alliance to pull its AWACS planes out of Turkey, should it become actively involved in the Second Gulf War.

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AL-JAZEERA has a website in English at

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