bloodiest day of war

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    Bloodiest day of war
    500 civilians among 650 Iraqis killed
    Rajeev Sharma
    Tribune News Service

    Kuwait City, March 26
    A lot of Iraqi blood was spilled today, which shattered the notions of the coalition forces that Saddam Hussein’s iron grip over Iraq was loosening.

    “Day Seven of the Iraq war was the bloodiest, so far, in which, — 650 Iraqis — 150 soldiers and 500 civilians, were killed near Najaf town,” officials here said. The fiercest fighting was reported from the east bank of the Euphrates near Najaf when troops from the Seventh Cavalry Regiment of the Third Infantry Division were attacked by a combination of ‘fidayeen’ militia and regular Iraqi troops. The Iraqi rocket-propelled grenades were no match for Americans’ much superior ground armour, including Abrams tanks. There were no American casualties and only two tanks were lost.

    The stiff resistance from the Iraqi troops and militia forced the Allied forces to shift the focus of their ground operations — concentrate on, first, defeating the fidayeen and militia groups loyal to Saddam Hussein before beginning the battle for Baghdad.

    The fidayeen outfit comprises about 60,000 Saddam loyalist irregular troops and is believed to be commanded by Saddam’s son, Uday.

    Though the Allied forces were just about 80 km from Baghdad, it is understood that, in view of the changed focus, the final push into Baghdad would be delayed. However, the delay would be of only a few days, not weeks.

    The other theatres of war continued to remain active, reflecting the still solid grip of Saddam Hussein over his armed forces. This was clear from the high number of casualties Iraqi fighters suffered today.

    Till date the state-owned television and radio continue to function in Iraq and the coalition forces don’t have a clue about Saddam Hussein’s whereabouts. Though the Iraqi television’s international signal was knocked off the air by the pre-dawn coalition strikes, the television was back on the air shortly after day-break.

    AFP adds: Britain maintained an uprising had taken place in Iraq’s second city of Basra yesterday. It confirmed the revolt would bolster coalition hopes of winning the support of the Iraqi people.

    In Baghdad, around a dozen explosions shook the city and suburbs as dawn broke, an AFP reporter said.

    A US Navy spokesman aboard the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier said a barrage of 40 Tomahawk cruise missiles was launched at the city and surrounding area from ships in the Gulf and the Red Sea.

    British Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said today that Iraqi militia had been attacking Iraqis in the southern city of Basra.

    But Iraqi officials denied the report and a correspondent in Basra for the Arab television network Al-Jazeera said there was no sign of a revolt.

    The city of 1.2 million people has been without electricity and water since Friday and a revolt would mark a major turning point for coalition forces who have been surprised by fierce resistance in the south.

    As many as 20 British servicemen have now been killed in war accidents and combat. There are 16 Americans dead but several are missing and seven are believed held prisoners.

    As many as 14 Iraqis were killed and at least 30 wounded today when at least two US-British missiles struck a Baghdad residential area, civil defence forces said.

    The missiles hit “the city of the people” in northern Baghdad at about 11:30 am (1400 GMT), the Director of Civil Defence in the district, Mr Hamad Abdallah al-Dulaimi said.
 
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