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 Sunday, April 06, 2003



Civilian Casualty Update

Najem Khalaf weeps at the sight of his dead daughter Nadia, killed by a missile."My daughter had just completed her PhD in Psychology and was waiting for her first job. She was born in 1970. She was 33."

FINAL JOURNEY: Nadia's simple wooden coffin is taken to her final resting place

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LATEST In a live interview aired by Abu Dhabi TV, the Iraqi Press (Media) Minister, Muhammed Sa'id Al-Sahaf, said that the Iraqi forces are in total control of the Saddam International airport after a battle that took place last night. He also said that there would be photos and videos about the battle that would verify his statement. Moreover, he promised to take journalists to the airport when life would not be in danger because of artillery bombardment from US forces which retreated to Abu Ghareeb area, 35 kilometers south of Baghdad.Al-Sahaf also said that there is a battle going on right now in which Iraqi forces are attacking US forces in Abu Ghareeb, using all kinds of weapons, including land to land missiles. He denied that there are any US forces in Baghdad, describing such claims as propaganda and psychological warfare.

There was no sign of a US military presence in Baghdad Saturday despite American officials' claim that coalition troops were in town to stay, AFP correspondents reported. The city seemed strangely normal in the afternoon.While some militia fighters equipped with automatic weapons and anti-tank rocket launchers manned city intersections, others were less visible, holed up in entrenched positions.

U.S. Central Command claimed American armored combat troops entered the "heart of Baghdad" on Saturday, defeating Iraqi forces as they went, But Iraq claimed to have turned back the coalition forces.CBS News Correspondent Laura Logan reports: "I am standing in the heart of Baghdad, and I have not seen any evidence of U.S. troops on the ground. … There are a lot of journalists who have been around Baghdad and to the outskirts, and none that I have spoken to in Baghdad and none of the residents say they have seen sign of U.S. tanks or troops."

A suicide bomber has attacked U.S. army soldiers at Baghdad international airport, a U.S. Marine gunnery sergeant said on Saturday. The sergeant told Reuters correspondent Matt Green, who was travelling with the U.S. Marine southeast of Baghdad, about the attack, but there was no immediate word on casualties. U.S. Central Command in Qatar said it was not aware of a new suicide attack at the airport.

Iraqi television showed footage of President Saddam Hussain visiting residential areas of Baghdad yesterday, hours after the U.S. military said it had taken control of the city's airport. Wearing a green military uniform and with a pistol at his waist, Saddam moved slowly through a crowd of cheering and chanting Iraqis, almost all men.

A top Iraqi official said Iraqi forces have expelled coalition forces from Saddam International Airport and regained complete control, despite the report of U.S. officials that no such thing had occurred.U.S. forces said that such claims are "groundless." He invited journalists to go to the Baghdad's neighborhoods of al-Dora and Yarmouk which were reportedly entered by coalition forces."Why not to go and visit the places. There are Iraqi checkpoints," he said.Al-Jazeera reported that foreign journalists in Baghdad have confirmed that no U.S. forces have been seen in central and western Baghdad

Correspondents traveling around Baghdad saw no sign of U.S. troops or armor inside the city. The sound of heavy artillery fire could be heard from the fringes of the city, but there was no sign of U.S. forces. A U.S. spokesman said early on Saturday that American forces had pushed into the heart of the battered Iraqi capital for a first time in the 17-day-old war. Paramilitary forces, dressed in black and carrying AK-47 assault rifles and grenades, headed toward the outskirts of the Iraqi capital on Saturday or joined soldiers in full combat gear digging in around the city. Forces loyal to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein moved into position across the city or headed south toward the battle front.Trailers and buses full of Saddam's Fedayeen, the black-clad paramilitary forces under the command of Saddam's eldest son Uday, drove south on one thoroughfare. Around the southern outskirts, the south east, the south west and near the presidential palaces and the main security buildings of the Iraqi capital, Iraqi forces preparing for battle and boarded-up shops.Soldiers in full combat gear and members of Saddam's Fedayeen crouched on the corners of highways leading to the south and east.Iraqi forces appeared to be repositioning themselves constantly.

A US military spokesman scorned at claims Baghdad airport was still under Iraqi control, saying the only Iraqi troops he had seen in the facility were "dead or captured".

Suicide attacks on the US-led coalition in Iraq are "permitted under (Islamic) religious law," the sheikh of Al-Azhar, the highest Sunni Muslim spiritual authority, Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, said here Saturday."Martyr operations against the invading forces are permitted under religious law," he said, quoted by the official MENA news agency.Tantawi described the invasion of Iraq to oust the regime of Saddam Hussein as "an unjust aggression.

The Iraqi women suicide bombers
Warda Jamil (left) and Nour Al-Shammari (right)

A US tank commander was shot and killed and two other soldiers were wounded during a drive through the centre of Baghdad where they encountered intense Iraqi fire, a senior officer told AFP."We had one KIA (killed in action)," Colonel David Perkins, commander of the 2nd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division, said.Asked how he was killed, Perkins said the commander had sustained a "head wound".

Col. Joe W. Dowdy
The Marine Corps relieved one of its top commanders in Iraq yesterday, an extremely unusual action, especially for a unit engaged in combat. Col. Joe W. Dowdy has been the officer in charge of the 1st Marine Regiment, one of the three major Marine Corps ground units fighting toward Baghdad. His regiment is to pin down Republican Guard units in the city of Kut. At Kut, the 1st Marine Regiment's mission included feinting a move toward Iraqi positions to draw artillery fire. That maneuver was intended to expose the locations of the Iraqi gun batteries, which could then be hit by airstrikes. The Iraqi units didn't take the bait and never opened fire. Dowdy's immediate superior, Maj. Gen. James N. Mattis, the commander of the 1st Marine Division, has the reputation of being an extremely aggressive commander. Dowdy's removal puzzled veterans of the Corps, which -- with just about 16,000 officers -- is small enough that many senior Marines come to know each other. The key to the situation, some officers suggested, is likely Mattis's views on how forcefully a unit should act in combat. "Jim Mattis is a very aggressive commander -- we wouldn't want it any other way," said retired Marine Lt. Gen. Jack Klimp.


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LATEST The United States and North Korea held working-level talks from Monday to Wednesday in New York to discuss Pyongyang's suspected nuclear arms program, a Japanese news report said.

North Korea defied United States sanctions today on exports of missile technology that American officials fear could be a prelude to sale of nuclear warheads to rogue nations worldwide.Pyongyang's Korea Central News Agency defended as "an indisputable right" the production and deployment of missiles to protect the country's "sovereignty and supreme interests."

The United States has officially informed South Korea that it intends to pull back its troops from inter-Korean border areas during the second half this year, government sources said yesterday

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