View Full Version : House to house in Nasiriya

03-30-03, 05:31 AM

NASIRIYA, Iraq (CNN) -- U.S. Marines appear to have secured the southern bank of the Euphrates River and are taking heavy fire from the other side Sunday in a town that has become the scene of a drawn-out battle.

For almost a week, the former tourist town of Nasiriya has seen intense fighting. (Map of Iraq) Last Sunday, a group of U.S. Army soldiers took a wrong turn and were ambushed by Iraqi forces, who killed 10 and captured at least five others.

Since then, U.S. Marines have taken control of a hospital that the U.S. Central Command said contained thousands of chemical suits, plus weapons and a tank. A Pentagon official said Saturday that the Marines had made another significant find at the facility: bloodied U.S. battle fatigues believed to have belonged the ambushed soldiers. (Full story)

Sunday morning saw a continued "lawless fight," said a CNN correspondent embedded with the 2nd Marines, Task Force Tarawa. An overnight artillery attack that included howitzers and Cobra attack helicopters gave way to a firefight in the morning.

The Marines have been going house-to-house, destroying enemy command posts as they find them.

In the city's headquarters of Iraq's ruling Baath party, the Marines found terrain models, overlays, map symbols and "very sensitive" record books. Military intelligence is analyzing the information.

The Marines also said they found more than 10,000 rounds of machine gun ammunition, hundreds of mortar rounds, artillery and chemical suits. Nearby were warehouses of food, including macaroni and rice, which the U.S. forces are going to distribute to the population.

Saturday, the Marines took fire from a mosque on the northern bank of the Euphrates. The U.S. forces fired back, destroying machine gun positions at the mosque. Secondary explosions and a resulting fire sent smoke rising hundreds of feet into the air.

The Marines said the blasts indicated that munitions had been stored inside the mosque.

Along the northern bank of the Euphrates, Iraqi fighters have established mortar positions behind sandbags on the rooftops of buildings overlooking the river.

It is taking longer than expected to clear the town of Iraqi forces, the Marines said, because they are dealing with paramilitary-style fighters dressed in civilian clothes and armed with AK-47 assault rifles.

Because their objective is to make Nasiriya secure for coalition forces to come in behind them, the Marines said, they are dealing with the threat methodically, opposing Iraqi positions as they find them.

-- CNN correspondent Art Harris contributed to this report

EDITOR'S NOTE: This report was written in accordance with Pentagon ground rules allowing so-called embedded reporting, in which journalists join deployed troops. Among the rules accepted by all participating news organizations is an agreement not to disclose sensitive operational details.