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 Tuesday, April 01, 2003



Civilian Casualty Update

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LATEST Dozens of volunteers have left Beirut to take up arms in Iraq, . The mostly Lebanese young men, enraged by gruesome television images showing Iraqi civilian casualties of the 12-day-old war, left by land via Syria to join the fight. Witnesses saw 36 volunteers cross the Lebanese border into Syria in a bus. "We are going to die, we know we will not come back," he said, leaving behind three children, including a seven-month-old baby.

Iraqi forces have killed 43 US and British soldiers in 36 hours, Iraq's Information Minister Mohammed Said al-Sahhaf said Monday in a military briefing."We have shot down four Apaches (helicopters), two Predator drones and killed 43 US and British soldiers," he told a press conference in Baghdad.The information minister said that 13 coalition tanks, eight troop transports and six armoured cars had also been destroyed by Iraqi forces over the previous 36 hours.

The CIA has stopped trying to persuade Iraqi generals and political leaders to defect after underestimating their "hatred" of America. A three-month campaign using telephone calls, e-mails and face-to-face appeals has failed to convince any help overthrow Saddam Hussein."We misjudged their tenacity," an American intelligence official has told USA Today."These guys are driven by a hatred of the US that we may have underestimated."Potential defectors were promised asylum, money and a position in a post-war Iraqi government.

Three US troops were wounded Monday, one seriously, after Iraqi soldiers used a Red Crescent ambulance to stage an attack in southern Iraq, a US Air Force source told AFP.The Iraqi troops opened fire on a group of American soldiers who had approached the ambulance at a town north of Nasiriyah, the source said.

Celebrity television journalist Geraldo Rivera, who has been on assignment covering the US-led war in Iraq, has been told by US military officials that he is no longer welcome to accompany US troops there.Rivera was told to leave Iraq after an on-air appearance during which he drew a map in the sand revealing information about US troop locations

A MILITANT Palestinian group yesterday vowed to send suicide bombers to Iraq to kill US and British troops, just hours after one of its supporters blew himself up outside an Israeli cafe and amid growing signs of broader Islamic resistance to the allies waging war on Saddam Hussein. In a statement faxed from its Beirut headquarters, the Al-Quds Brigades, the Islamic Jihad’s military arm, said the first group of Palestinians had already arrived in Baghdad to murder US and British soldiers in suicide attacks "in response to the appeal of sacred duty in defending the land of Arabs and Muslims

Bruised and bleeding, in need of medical care, the Americans stranded in Iraq's western desert approached the mud-brick town and found the hospital destroyed by bombs."Why? Why?" a doctor demanded of them. "Why did you Americans bomb our children's hospital?" Scores of Iraqi townspeople crowded around. The American peace activists' account was the first confirmation of a report last week that a hospital in Rutbah was bombed Wednesday, with dead and injured. The travelers said they saw no significant Iraqi military presence near the hospital or elsewhere in Rutbah. The doctor did not discuss casualties, the Americans said.

US Marines moved into the southern Iraqi town of Shatrah on Monday to recover the body of a dead comrade which had been hanged in the town square, officers said.Hundreds of troops were dispatched on the operation after intelligence reports indicated the body of a dead American, who was killed in a firefight last week, had been paraded through the streets and hanged in public. Shatrah is some 40 kilometres (24.8 miles) north of Nasiriyah, where Iraqi forces have been harassing US supply lines and putting up tough resistance for more than a week.

General Tommy Franks, the US commander, insisted there would be no pause in the assault on Saddam Hussein’s regime. But troops on the ground suggested there had been a marked change in the coalition’s military strategy Frontline soldiers to the south of Baghdad said they were digging trenches, laying mines and camouflaging vehicles to protect their positions, instead of preparing for an imminent advance on the Iraqi capital. Initial reports at the weekend suggested there would be a delay of about six days to allow supplies and reinforcements to reach the front. However, military officials reportedly told one frontline unit the "pause" in the attack could last 35 to 40 days. Other reports claimed there would be a two-week pause.

Six Iraqi civilians were killed and dozens wounded by a US-led coalition bombing in a Baghdad residential neighborhood. Kamal Askar, director of the al-Kindi hospital, said the incident happened in the al-Amin neighborhood in east Baghdad. An AFP correspondent reported that six homes in the area were destroyed Monday

Two British soldiers have been sent home from the Gulf for refusing to fight in a war involving the deaths of civilians, according to a solicitor who advises troops. Justin Hugheston-Roberts says the soldiers from 16 Air Assault Brigade, based in Colchester, Essex, told their commanding officers they would not take part in the military action. Mr Hugheston-Roberts, chairman of Forces Law, said they could be thrown out of the Army or have to face a court martial. It is understood they are a private and an air technician.

The United States has suspended the transportation of military equipment through south-eastern Turkey because of security concerns after villagers threw stones and eggs at US personnel over the weekend, US and Turkish officials said.

American television network NBC said it had severed its relations with veteran reporter Peter Arnett after he told Iraqi television the US war plan against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had failed. "Peter Arnett will no longer be reporting for NBC News and MSNBC," NBC said in a joint statement with National Geographic, for whom the Pulitzer prize-winning reporter was also working

An armada of B-1, B-2 and B-52 bombers struck communication and command centers in Baghdad, and cruise missiles set Iraq's Information Ministry ablaze Monday in the second such attack on the building in two days.

Twenty civilians were killed when a missile struck a farm near Baghdad, relatives have told AFP. Another 10 people were wounded, according to relatives who survived the Saturday night assault, which destroyed three homes in the Al-Janabiin suburb on the southeastern edge of Baghdad. They said the dead also included seven women and two men belonging to five families.

Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt Sunday toughened his position against the war in Iraq. Speaking at a meeting of his liberal VKD party in the city of Antwerp, Verhofstadt denounced the US as "very dangerous." "America, a power deeply injured, and has become very dangerous, and it thinks to take over the whole Arab world," Belgian RTL TV quoted him saying. He said the US regards the Arab world responsible for all terrorism. "This is a logic which I do not share," he said.

Pope John Paul II said today he hoped that the human tragedy of the war in Iraq would not set Christians and Muslims against each other and spark "a religious catastrophe. War must never be allowed to divide world religions," he told visiting Roman Catholic bishops from Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country.

The United States and its allies have probably already lost the political war over Iraq, one of Australia's most respected defence experts said Monday. Professor Des Ball, of Canberra's Australian National University (ANU), said instead of putting an end to terrorism, coalition forces would have effectively strengthened al-Qaeda and other terrorist networks by the end of the war.

British commandos captured five senior Iraqi officers in an a clash with Iraqi paramilitaries near Basra on Sunday but none of them was a general as had been initially reported, a British military spokeswoman said here Monday. "We have got five senior Iraqi officers but none of them is a general," Major Catherine Convery said here at the US-British forward command headquarters directing the war on Iraq. The British military said Sunday that one of those captured in the fighting was a general in the regular Iraqi army.

Greece refused on Monday to grant the United States surveillance rights over a key naval base on the Mediterranean island of Crete.

Twelve days into the Iraq war, not one senior Iraqi politician or military commander has defected from President Saddam Hussein's regime, British Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon acknowledged Monday


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LATEST Tamil Tiger guerrillas opened fire on a Sri Lankan navy troop carrier, wounding at least three soldiers, but sailors retaliated by sinking the rebel attack craft, officials said.

The United States has slapped sanctions on a Pakistani firm and North Korea over an alleged barter deal in which it is claimed Pyongyang swapped missile components for expertise in developing a nuclear program, officials said. Sanctions targeted North Korea's Changgwang Sinyong Corporation and AQ Khan Research Laboratories (KRL), a uranium enrichment facility named after the father of Pakistan's nuclear program, Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan.

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