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 Friday, April 04, 2003



Civilian Casualty Update

An Iraqi man holds his injured child at a hospital in the farming town of Hilla in the southern province of Babylon

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LATEST Saddam International Airport came under US artillery fire on Thursday evening, leaving dozens killed and injured outside Baghdad, witnesses reported.An Iraqi TV cameraman returning from the airport around 9:45 pmtold AFP correspondents in Baghdad that he had seen incoming artillery shells and dozens of dead and wounded.John Irvine, a correspondent for Britain's ITN television news, added that he had also seen artillery shells raining down on the airport more than three hours earlier.

Artillery fire was heard around 8:00 pmThursday on the southern outskirts of Baghdad, part of which was plunged into darkness following a power cut, AFP correspondents in the Iraqi capital reported.It was the first such time artillery fire could be heard from central Baghdad, as US forces said they were approaching the capital.The barrage of pounding fire seemed to be coming from the Iraqi defence lines, and no sounds of exploding shells were heard

Baghdad's Saddam International Airport was on Thursday afternoon local time still under the full control of the Iraqi authorities, an AFP correspondent reported. No bombing or fighting were visible at the airport, which lies 20 kilometres from the centre of Baghdad. "The airport is safe," airport manager Muafiq Abdullah al-Jaburi told journalists escorted there by the information ministry. US military officials said earlier in the day that US troops leading an advance on Baghdad had moved near the Iraqi capital's airport.

The Iraqi regime headed into a third week of war Thursday voicing undying defiance, as the aerial blitz of Baghdad appeared to grow heavier and US ground forces closed in on the battered capital.

No Iraqi warplane has taken off in the face of total American and British air superiority during the 2-week-old war, leading some U.S. generals and analysts to wonder whether they are being readied for a desperate wave of terror attacks. The experts say that if the Iraqis try to fly they are likely to be destroyed, perhaps before they even get into the air. But if a suicide mission got through U.S. defenses, the attack's psychological damage could outweigh any physical casualties. "We're concerned about any possible use of an airplane to conduct terror," Maj. Gen. Victor Renuart told reporters at Central Command headquarters in Qatar this past weekend

A top Iraqi official denied Thursday as "an illusion" coalition reports that their forces had entered Saddam International Airport and reached the southern outskirts of Baghdad, despite coalition reports that its forces could see the capital's skyline."This is completely untrue. This is silly and an illusion. Why don't you take a look at Saddam Airport? This is Baghdad, you can check," Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf told reporters in Baghdad."They won't even dare approach Baghdad. We will go and greet them there (at the airport) not with flowers but with bullets and shoes."Some reports from coalition units place U.S. and British forces were within 10 miles of Baghdad. U.S. Army personnel said, "We have the Baghdad skyline in sight."

13 days after the launch of U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the Swiss Foreign Ministry has decided to document U.S.-British war crimes against Iraqi civilians on a separate section within its website. Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy Rey Monday, March 31, told German paper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that the section – operational since Monday morning – gathers information and data from credible and documented sources, adding names of new victims would be added on an hourly basis. β€œThe initial data available so far reveals the dirtiness of U.S.-British warmongers, the fakeness of their claims about a clean war, as well as their indifference to the lives of innocent, unarmed Iraqi civilians,” Rey, member of the ruling Socialist, Democratic Party, added.

Two former Australian military commanders believe the Iraqi Leader Saddam Hussein is dead.Former Special Forces commander Brigadier Jim Wallace and Air Vice Marshall Peter Nicholson are convinced that is the case

In spite of being mostly knocked offline, the Web site of Arab satellite news network Al-Jazeera was among the most sought-after on the Internet last week.The Web portal Lycos reported that "Al-Jazeera" and variant spellings became its top search term last week, with three times more searches than "sex."


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LATEST Outlawed Islamic extremist organizations that were routed by the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan in 2001 are making a comeback, riding a wave of anti-American sentiment. Recruitment in Pakistan of potential terrorists appears to be on the rise. Militant leaders freed from house arrest have returned to the mosques to rally the faithful against the United States. Muslim radicals are feeding on anger about the war in Iraq to regroup and revitalize, raising the threat of more anti-U.S. terrorism around the world. Analysts say the Iraq war is emboldening militants, who believe the United States is distracted by the fighting."Militants know that the United States is fully engaged in Iraq and that has diluted their focus on the war on terror," said Riffat Hussein, a political analyst.

At least eight people have been killed and 10 others injured when a blast tore through a passenger bus in the Chechen capital Grozny, a Chechen official said.It was the first attack in the separatist Russian republic since a contentious referendum on a new constitution there last month.

The European Union would only give its full backing to the post-war reconstruction of Iraq if the process was authorized by a UN resolution, the EU presidency said on Thursday after talks with US Secretary of State Colin Powell."A UN resolution will be a prerequisite for a full involvement of the European Union in the post-conflict reconstruction process," said Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, whose country currently holds the revolving EU presidency.

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