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 Sunday, March 23, 2003



Civilian Casualty Update

DEAD Iraqi soldiers, still clutching white flags, lie in the trenches where they died.This was the horrific sight that met British troops as they pushed further into southern Iraq yesterday.

LATEST An RAF aircraft is missing, following reports that it was hit by an American missile. A Ministry of Defence spokesman at Central Command in Qatar said it had been returning from a mission over Iraq. It was not yet known what type of aircraft was involved or how many crew were on board, although a search for survivors is underway. It is thought the plane was brought down by a US Patriot anti-missile system stationed in the Gulf to protect Kuwait and coalition forces stationed there.

A Russian reporter died in the Iraqi city of Basra on Saturday. He fell victim of an air raid by American and British aviation along with dozens of Iraqis, Tass learnt on Sunday from reliable sources.

A heavy firefight broke out between US Marines and Iraqi forces in the southern Iraqi town of Umm Qasr one day after US officials said they had won control of the strategic port, witnesses said.Reports say US soldiers opened up with heavy bursts of machine-gun fire in an area where US forces had set up headquarters in the town.Arabic television al Jazeera's correspondent in Umm Qasr says the Iraqis appear to be staging a counterattack

As many as three U.S. missiles aimed at targets in Iraq may have landed in Iran, two officials at the Pentagon said Saturday.The State Department assured Iran, in a message sent through Swiss intermediaries, that the United States was investigating. Spokesman Philip Reeker offered public assurances that the United States respects Iran's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The official Iranian news agency reported that four rockets have landed in Iran over the past two days.

American hopes for a smooth takeover of northern Iraq were undermined last night as an ethnic bloodbath appeared to be under way in one city and Turkish forces began moving south against the wishes of the Pentagon. As waves of U.S. warplanes hit Iraqi targets across the north, at least 60 Kurds were executed by Iraqis in an apparent sweep of revenge killings in the oil centre of Kirkuk, according to local residents. The minority Kurds faced a further threat from the north this morning as Turkish forces began rolling across the border to contain and possibly confront Kurdish forces.The executions in Kirkuk were confirmed by local residents leaving the city, as well as by senior government officials in the neighbouring Kurdish enclave. Kurdish officials said the executions took place at the Khalid garrison on the edge of Kirkuk, within the last 48 hours, after some people were caught last week trying to use satellite phones.

THE UK death toll yesterday rose to 14. Six Navy men died as two helicopters collided. Eight Marines died in a 'copter crash on Friday. America has lost 11 so far.

An American soldier is suspected of carrying out a grenade attack at a US military camp in Kuwait which killed one of his comrades and wounded 13 others.The soldier was found hiding in a bunker and placed in custody following the early morning attack at the heavily-guarded camp of the 101st Airborne Division.The attacker threw three grenades into three tents, including the command tent, at Camp Pennsylvania, one of the desert bases from where US forces have launched an invasion of Iraq.

France has deployed a unit of 39 French soldiers and two armored personnel carriers to Qatar, a French diplomat told CNN Saturday.The soldiers were "on their way," she said. Their deployment followed a request made by the Qatar government as part of a bilateral arrangement, she said.

A United Nations aid agency says up to 500,000 people in northern Iraq have fled their homes ahead of the US-led invasion, with the movement continuing.The UN Office of the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq says most of the people have fled the major towns in the region and are heading to outlying villages further north into the Kurdish-held areas. Meanwhile aid workers in Baghdad say a number of civilian houses have been destroyed in the coalition strikes, and a Catholic Church has been damaged.International aid agency Caritas says its workers in Baghdad are providing medical help to many wounded civilians and have had to set up first aid centres in local schools to cope with the demand.

Missing British TV reporter Terry Lloyd and two of his ITN news crew may have been hit by "friendly fire" from coalition forces in Iraq, it was reported today. Cameraman Fred Nerac and local translator Hussein Othman were also missing after the incident which happened as they were trying to get to the front at Basra.

Iraq's main Shiite opposition faction, based in Iran, will not take part in the "aggressive war" being waged by the United States and its allies on Iraq, its leader said. We believe that the method of dealing with (the Baghdad) regime should not be through war. War is harmful," Mohammad Baqir Hakim of the Supreme Assembly for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SAIRI) told al-Jazeera TV news network



Nigeria: Militant Ijaw youths threatened on Sunday to blow up oil facilities in the Niger Delta as troops battled to quell tribal warfare that has shut down 16 percent of oil-dependent Nigeria's total ouput.Ethnic Ijaw warriors who are at war with their Itsekiri rivals said they will blow up crude oil pipelines, flow stations and target the key Escravos terminal if the army deployed to end the violence continued to raze their villages.

The Russian Defense Ministry said it deployed two fighters Saturday to track a U.S. spy plane flying near the Russian border with neighboring Georgia.Russian air defense systems locked on to the American U-2 plane as it began its flight over the former Soviet republic of Georgia, ministry spokesman Nikolai Deryabin was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

Thousands of people have gathered at an inner Sydney peace rally to vent their frustration at the invasion of Iraq.Organisers estimated that more than 20,000 had gathered, which they said was impressive for such short notice.

The biggest demonstration took place in Montreal where crowd estimates were pegged at more than 200,000, similar in size to the one staged last weekend prior to the start of the U.S. campaign and amongst the largest worldwide Saturday. American protests were also staged in Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, with dozens of demonstrations involving tens of thousands of people taking place in Britain, France, Germany, Finland, Italy, Sweden, Norway and Denmark.

Nearly 200,000 antiwar demonstrators took to the streets of Manhattan today, protesting the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq even as bombs rained down on Baghdad again. The turnout in New York, a march that was 20 abreast and 40 blocks long, surprised some parade organizers. They had worried that the round-the-clock bombing and televised images of U.S. tanks racing across the Iraqi desert might cause antiwar Americans to despair. Instead, unofficial police estimates of the crowd size grew steadily through the day, and marchers spoke of their determination to be heard.There were a smattering of pro-war demonstrators, numbering a few dozen.

Smaller demonstrations took place across the nation, from thousands marching in San Francisco -- where 2,200 have been arrested in recent days -- to several hundred protesters snaking through downtown Washington, chanting "No blood for oil!"
In downtown Chicago, a cluster of pro- and antiwar demonstrators faced off outside the Federal Building. Chants of "Killer! Killer!" were met by the response: "Idiot! Idiot!"In Louisville, about 400 military wives, leather-clad bikers, veterans and others massed and declared solidarity with U.S. soldiers

There were demonstrations around the globe. About 100,000 demonstrators marched through downtown London, a far smaller number than the 1 million who trooped there for a "Stop the War" rally in February. Polls in Britain have shown that, although support for Prime Minister Tony Blair is rising, about half the population opposes the war. Elsewhere in Europe, about 100,000 marched in Madrid and 40,000 turned out in Berlin. There were rallies in Paris, Rome, Helsinki, Brussels and Lisbon.

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