Marines in the middle of Bagdad
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    Marines in the middle of Bagdad,2933,83580,00.html#top

    Jubilation in Streets as American Tanks Drive to Center of Baghdad

    Wednesday, April 09, 2003

    BAGHDAD, Iraq American tanks drove straight into the center of Baghdad Wednesday -- and Iraqi citizens poured into the street, some taking their shirts off and waving them around in jubilation that Saddam Hussein no longer maintained a vice grip on the capital.

    A group of men led journalists and cameramen toward a huge statue of Saddam in the middle of Paradise Square, and they began tearing pieces off of it -- a clear sign that they are finished with their brutal dictator.

    Maps: Iraq | Baghdad

    U.S. troops walked around the square, checking rooftops for snipers, but they met little to no resistance in that part of the city, east of the Tigris River.

    But in another part of the capital, U.S. Marines were in a fierce firefight with Saddam's Republican Guard.

    "It's still a combat situation. We have to stay on our toes," said U.S. Central Command Capt. Frank Thorp.

    But Central Command made this much certain: Saddam -- if he's still alive -- has lost control of Baghdad.

    "The capital city is now one of those areas that has been added to the list of where the regime does not have control," Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks said at U.S. Central Command in Qatar.

    But he warned: "there is still work to be done."

    Central Command was "cautiously optimistic" about the jubilation in the streets, he said during a press briefing Wednesday.

    Iraqis were daring not only to loot, but also to rejoice over Saddam's fall, to vandalize his image and to call him a criminal -- offenses that just days or weeks ago could have brought arrest, imprisonment, torture, even death at the hands of his secret police.

    But Brooks said Saddam loyalists continue to hold out in the north, including in Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, and they still pose a threat -- which includes the possible use of weapons of mass destruction

    Even as they encountered sniper fire from roving bands of holdout fighters, Marine and Army units swept through Baghdad, seizing or destroying buildings that once housed some of Saddam's most feared security forces.

    Marine tanks rolled into the commercial center, greeted by people cheering and waving white flags.

    Civilians gestured to the Americans with V-for-victory signs. "We were nearly mobbed by people trying to shake our hands," said Maj. Andy Milburn of the 7th Marines.

    Looting Spree Continues

    At police stations, universities, government ministries, the headquarters of the Iraq Olympic Committee, looters unhindered by any police presence made off with computers, furniture, even military jeeps. One young man used roller skates to wheel away a refrigerator.

    "Thank you, thank you, Mr. Bush," some of the looters shouted. An elderly man beat a portrait of Saddam with his shoe, while a younger man spat on the portrait.

    In the southern city of Basra, which was taken over by British forces this week, looters have been plundering government buildings, universities, even hospitals. An International Red Cross representative said the looting could delay relief efforts in the city of 1.3 million.

    Fox News' Greg Kelly, embedded with the 3rd Infantry Division in Baghdad, said other parts of Baghdad were strangely quiet and that the looting was at a minimum.

    But U.S. officers said their forces faced continued resistance, fierce but disorganized, from small groups of holdout pro-Saddam fighters.

    This resistance is being felt the strongest in the north, Jim Wilkinson, spokesman for U.S. war chief Tommy Franks, told Fox News on Wednesday.

    "The regime has lost control in most places in Iraq" but there are "significant pockets" of resistance in the north, Wilkinson said. "We'll continue to go where those pockets are and destroy them."

    "There are still many days of perhaps fierce fighting to follow," said Capt. Frank Thorp, a Central command spokesman. "There are other areas of the country where we have yet to be at... So it's not over. We're seeing good signs here, but I would definitely stay on the cautious side and say we still have more to come."

    Focus on Tikrit

    U.S. commanders focused attention on targets to the north -- including Tikrit, still a stronghold of loyalist troops, and the northern city of Mosul.

    Special operations forces and air strikes were "actively engaging" Iraqi forces in both cities.

    Thorp said there were several areas of Iraq where coalition ground troops have yet to arrive, specifically mentioning Tikrit, where the Air Force, Navy, Marines as well as British aircraft were conducting strikes against military targets on Wednesday.

    U.S. special forces and Kurdish fighters seized a strategic hilltop near Mosul; senior Kurdish leader Hoshyar Zebari called it the most important gain in the region thus far.

    Tikrit, Saddam's hometown in the desert, is about 90 miles to the north of Baghdad. Defended by well-trained troops, and home to many of Saddam's most devoted followers, the city of 260,000 is considered one of the few remaining strongholds of the Iraqi regime.

    Central Command said coalition airstrikes were targeting the Republican Guard's Adnan division in Tikrit, "shaping the battlefield" before U.S. ground forces move in.

    The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, one of two main Iraqi Kurdish groups opposing Saddam, claimed Tuesday that Saddam already was hiding in Tikrit. U.S. officials said they didn't know if he had escaped Monday's bombing of a site in Baghdad's Mansour neighborhood, where he and at least one of his sons reportedly were meeting.

    A Central Command spokesman told Fox News that coalition forces still do not have in their control the site that U.S. forces decimated when a U.S. jet dropped four 2,000-pound bombs there on Monday.

    A senior administration official told Fox News that the Bush administration still does not know if Saddam is alive. It could take two to three more days to complete DNA testing once a body is found.

    Coalition Takes More of Baghdad

    Elsewhere in the capital, however, U.S. forces steadily expanded their reach in more quiet parts of the city, securing a military airport, capturing a prison, setting fire to a Republican Guard barracks. They are now operating in every quadrant of the city.

    Maj. Gen. Buford Blount II, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, visited a command post set up at the New Presidential Palace, overlooking the Tigris River. Col. David Perkins, whose 2nd Brigade was at the command post, told Blount his forces can go anywhere in the city and meet only sporadic sniping.

    The two commanders discussed what buildings could be used to house U.S. military units and a new government to replace Saddam's.

    "That's the next mental jump, is for the Iraqis to realize that even if [Saddam] is still alive, he's not in charge anymore," Perkins said.

    The Iraqi government's efforts to sustain its public relations campaign collapsed. State television went off the air Tuesday, and on Wednesday, foreign journalists said their "minders" -- government agents who monitor their reporting -- did not turn up for work.

    Also, there was no sign of Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, whose daily briefings have constituted the main public face of the regime during the war.

    Residents of Mansour estimated that 14 people, including at least seven children, were killed and scores wounded in homes and shops adjacent to the targeted site.

    Fox News' David Lee Miller, James Rosen and Liza Porteus and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

  2. #2


    At about 2:15 this morning, not being able to sleep, I tuned in to MSNBC where they were covering a real time fire fight at the bridgehead in Al Kut by Bob Arnot, the embedded reporter. He was with a small unit of the 4th Marines. Unbelievable!!!

    In the aftermath of the battle somebody repeated a comment made by Brig. General Kelly. I might not have this absolutely verbatim; when asked if he or his Marines were concerned about the upcoming battle for Baghdad he made this remark:

    " We're Marines, we took Iwo Jima, Baghdad ain't ****! "

    Hope this quote gets more coverage and gets the place in history it deserves!

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