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 Saturday, March 22, 2003



Civilian Casualty Update

Latest "There are fires all the way around Baghdad and they appear to be deliberately set," said ABCNEWS' Richard Engel in Baghdad, adding that a wall of smoke had almost surrounded the capital. The fires appeared to have been set off in an effort to hamper daylight air strikes by U.S.-led forces, Engel said, although it was not clear if it was an effective defensive strategy. He said the fires may be coming from large trenches filled with gasoline.

Russia said it would oppose any plans by Washington to seek retroactive approval from the United Nations Security Council for its war on Iraq and again urged Washington to put an end to the military conflict."Without a doubt, there will be attempts to find a way to confer legitimacy on military operations or post-war reorganization in Iraq through the UN Security Council," Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said."We, of course, will not give this military action legitimacy through possible Security Council resolutions," he said.

Two British helicopters from the aircraft carrier Ark Royal have collided in mid-air in the Gulf, killing all six British servicemen and a US officer on board. The Ark Royal's Captain Alan Massey said the deaths were caused by a "tragic accident", five miles from the Royal Navy's flagship.

A senior legal adviser to the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, has quit the Foreign Office because of a difference over the legal advice sanctioning the war against Iraq, it emerged last night. Elizabeth Wilmhurst, 54, deputy legal adviser, is understood to be unhappy with the government's official line that it has sufficient basis for war under UN resolutions. Ms Wilmhurst has been a legal adviser at the Foreign Office for 30 years, and deputy legal officer since 1997. Her resignation will be an embarrassment to Tony Blair as well as to Mr Straw and raises new doubts about the legal basis for the war. It will encourage anti-war MPs to renew pressure on the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, to publish in full his legal advice to the government.

The United States unleashed a massive air assault Friday on Baghdad and other targets around Iraq, striking dozens of buildings in the capital with cruise missiles. Fires and huge plumes of smoke filled the skies of Baghdad on Saturday morning as warplanes hit more targets on the outskirts of the city. Simultaneously, U.S. Marines and British commandos moved across the desert from the south, securing Iraq’s only oil port and setting their sights on the key city of Basra, where a division of 8,000 Iraqi soldiers surrendered.

The US Navy launched about 320 Tomahawk cruise missiles from ships in the Gulf and the Red Sea in a massive air assault on the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, senior officers said.

Iraq fired its 12th missile in two days at Kuwait, but it crossed the emirate without landing, an interior ministry official said.General Ahmad al-Rujaib said on Kuwait Television that a missile was detected entering Kuwaiti airspace and was monitored until it crossed over the country.Rujaib said the missile did not strike in Kuwaiti territory

Iraq's 51st Infantry Division surrendered as coalition forces advanced toward Basra, Iraq's second largest city. The mechanized division had about 200 tanks before the war, according to independent analysts and U.S. officials .

Two marines were killed in fighting today, one in a night of skirmishing to take the port of Umm Qasr and the other during a firefight at the Rumaila oil field. Their deaths followed the loss of four other marines and eight British marines in an early morning helicopter crash.

ABCNEWS' Brian Ross reported that the three critical Iraqi officials — Taha Yasin Ramadan, Izzat Ibrahim al Douri, and Ali Hassan Majid, known as Chemical Ali — are believed to have died in Wednesday night's "decapitation attack," the opening salvo of the war.

Turkey has agreed to allow U.S. aircraft to fly over its territory for a war with Iraq, a Turkish military official said.Two air corridors will be opened for the U.S. aircraft, the official said, speaking on customary condition of anonymity.

Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations, Mohamed al-Douri, has accused secretary-general Kofi Annan of wanting to run Iraq's oil sale program and distribute the proceeds at his discretion.

A Turkish commando force of around 1,500 men has crossed into northern Iraq, a precursor to eventual larger deployment, a Turkish military official told Reuters. The United States has told Turkey it would not welcome a large unilateral Turkish incursion into northern Iraq, where Kurdish authorities are suspicious of Turkish motives. Turkey says it needs troops in Iraq to control refugees and forestall any attempt to create a Kurdish state. Kurdish groups have said they will resist any Turkish invasion

WBAL-TV 11 NEWS first broke the news that a Baltimore man is among a group of Marines killed in a helicopter crash inside Kuwait Thursday night. He is identified as Marine Staff Sgt. Kendall Waters-Bey, 29, of northeast Baltimore. He leaves behind a 10-year-old son who lives in Baltimore and four sisters As he held a picture of his son, Waters-Bey's father, Michael said: "I want President Bush to get a good look at this, really good look here. This is the only son I had, only son." He then walked away in tears, with his family behind him. A military spokesperson visited the family Friday morning to confirm that Waters-Bey had died in the crash.


Villagers fleeing violence in Nigeria's oil-rich western Niger Delta say dozens of people have been killed in clashes between soldiers and rival gangs of ethnic militants. Fighting between two local communities, the Ijaw and Itsekiri, has been raging for more than a week, drawing in thousands of soldiers

Anti-war hackers target websites: The number of web defacements has leapt up since the US-led war against Iraq beganAccording to security firm F-Secure, more than 1,000 sites have been hacked in direct relation to the Iraq conflict. Many of the hack attacks contain anti-war slogans and some have direct anti-USA or anti-Iraq slogans. Sites hacked to date include the US National Centre for Agricultural Utilization Research and the US Navy. US security firm iDefense has also reported hundreds of websites have been daubed with anti-war graffiti since the beginning of the conflict.

Thousands of U.S. and Afghan soldiers combed mountain caves and searched houses in southern Afghanistan on Friday on the second day of a major military operation against Taliban rebels, Afghan officials said."Operation Valiant Strike" was launched in the Samigar mountains of southeastern Afghanistan on Thursday morning, less than an hour before the first U.S. air strikes on Iraq.

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