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 Thursday, April 03, 2003



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LATEST A U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter was shot down in southern Iraq Wednesday, killing seven of the 11 soldiers aboard, Pentagon officials said.The helicopter was downed by small-arms fire near Karbala, the site of fierce fighting between the Army's 3rd Infantry Division and Iraqi troops, including Republican Guard forces. Armed with Global Position System equipment and advanced avionics, the Black Hawk is the Army's primary assault and utility helicopter. It can perform a variety of missions, including air cavalry, electronic warfare and aeromedical evacuation. It can carry a squad of 11 combat troops, or a 105-mm M102 howitzer and a six-person crew.

Iraq shot down a U.S. Navy F/A-18C Hornet with a surface-to-air missile Wednesday, military officials said. There was no immediate word on the fate of the pilot. The plane went down near Karbala, a city about 50 miles south of Baghdad where fighting raged between U.S. Army forces and the Iraqi Republican Guard. Navy and Marine pilots fly the F/A-18 Hornet from aircraft carriers. The supersonic jets are armed with a 20mm cannon and can carry a wide range of bombs and missiles. The easily maneuverable Hornet can operate as a fighter jet, shooting down enemy planes, or as an attack plane, bombing enemy targets.

A former chief executive of the Shell Oil Company appears to be the leading contender to oversee Iraqi oil production after the fall of Saddam Hussein. They said it appears that the executive, Philip J. Carroll, 65, would probably be responsible for Iraqi oil production, and that someone else would probably be named to run the refining and marketing of Iraqi oil.

Qatar-based Al-Jazeera satellite television is suspending the work of its journalists in Iraq after authorities banned one correspondent from working and asked another to leave, the station announced early Thursday. Al-Jazeera "has decided to suspend, until further notice, the work of all its correspondents in Iraq" after the information ministry informed its office in the Iraqi capital of the ban on Baghdad-based correspondent Diyar al-Umari and the request for Tayseer Alluni to leave the country "as soon as possible," it said.The station, "which regrets this surprising and unjustified stand," will continue with a minimum service, airing pictures from its offices in Baghdad, the southern city of Basra and the northern town of Mosul, a news presenter said.

UMM QASR - The U.S. military came up with a solution yesterday for the penniless people of this port town begging for water: Sell it. Under the deal, the military will provide water free to locals with access to tanker trucks, who then will be allowed to sell the water for a "reasonable" fee. A British military spokesman angrily objected to the water deal. The British control the city of Umm Qasr while the Americans are in charge of the port. "We're not going to have any charging for water. What kind of an aid plan would that be? These people don't even have shoes," the spokesman said.

AN intense heatwave with temperatures up to 41C (106F) will hit coalition troops in Iraq at the weekend.The first searing heat of its kind this season will see temperatures hit 38C (100F) by Friday, and peak Sunday, experts said.

'We didn't fly to Baghdad to drink coffee' -Russian generals in the company of the head of the General Staff of the Iraqi Army Izzat Ibragim and his deputies. Gazeta.Ru Online obtained evidence proving a group of former Soviet generals were preparing the Iraqi army for war against the United States. The generals received state awards from the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. They are retired Soviet officers, Col.-Gen. Vladimir Achalov and Col.-Gen. Igor Maltsev. The former was Soviet deputy defence minister, after being the Air-Borne Troops commander and a Soviet commander-in-chief of the rapid-reaction forces. The latter resigned from chief of the Main Staff of the Soviet Air Defence. In 1991 both generals backed the GKChP, (the State Committee for the State of Emergency, and were consequently dismissed from military service. Igor Maltsev is one of the best Russian experts in operating air-defence systems, while Vladislav Achalov has extensive experience in using rapid-reaction forces. Achalov and Maltsev are retired generals and do not act on behalf of Russia’s official authorities.

(Left photo) Iraqi Defence Minister hands award to Vladislav Achalov
(Right photo) Iraqi Defence Minister hands award to Col.-Gen. Igor Maltsev

According to the source who provided the photos, the ceremony was held ''less than 10 days before the beginning of the war'' in a building that was destroyed by US cruise missiles in the first few hours of air raids on Baghdad. Their private trips to Baghdad do not violate any UN resolutions, or any other restrictions imposed on Iraq by the UN Security Council. Yet, Russia’s indirect participation in the training of the Iraqi army to repulse the US-led invasion (in effect, Iraq is using the unique experience of Russia’s top, albeit retired officers) is likely to significantly complicate relations between Moscow and Washington.

Russia-U.S. ties were further strained by the war in Iraq Wednesday when the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned U.S. Ambassador Alexander Vershbow to protest the continued bombing of an area of Baghdad, this time near the Russian Embassy.In a strongly worded statement, the ministry said Moscow "demanded that the American authorities take urgent and exhaustive measures so that such dangerous and unacceptable incidents are not repeated in future."

Two Western journalists have arrived safely back in Kuwait City after being arrested, beaten up and deprived of food and water in Iraq — by members of the US Army’s military police. Luis Castro and Victor Silva, both reporters working for RTP Portuguese television, were held for four days, had their equipment, vehicle and video tapes confiscated, and were then escorted out of Iraq by the 101st Airborne Division. Despite possessing the proper “Unilateral Journalist” accreditation issued by the Coalition Forces Central Command, both journalists were detained. “I believe the reason we were detained was because we are not embedded with the US forces,” he continued. “Embedded journalists are always escorted by military minders. What they write is controlled and, through them, the military feeds its own version of the facts to the world. When independent journalists such as us come around, we pose a threat because they cannot control what we write.” After being held for four days, they were transported to the 101st Airborne Division to be escorted out of Iraq.Castro told Arab News: “A lieutenant in charge of the military police told me, ‘My men are like dogs, they are trained only to attack, please try to understand’.”

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