coalition doesn't control port city

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    Information minister says 500 civilians wounded in Nasiriya
    Wednesday, March 26, 2003 Posted: 10:41 AM EST (1541 GMT)


    BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al Sahaf on Wednesday accused the United States of lying about its progress in the Iraqi military campaign, saying coalition forces were trapped in Umm Qasr and only in control of a single dock in the southern Iraqi port city.

    Al Sahaf also said coalition forces destroyed 200 homes and wounded more than 500 civilians in the southern city of Nasiriya.

    U.S. Marines on Tuesday said they had seized a hospital in Nasiriya and captured nearly 170 Iraqi soldiers who had been staging military operations from the facility, U.S. authorities said.

    British Brig. Jim Dutton said Wednesday that the southern port city of Umm Qasr, where a fierce battle between dug-in Iraqi forces and coalition fighters raged over the weekend, is in control of coalition forces.

    But al Sahaf disputed that claim, and said that after seven days of war, U.S. and British forces have not left the dock in Umm Qasr.

    "Up till now, they are only on dock No. 10, not in Umm Qasr, not in the city," Al Sahaf said, blaming the coalition for trying to "deceive ... public opinion" by reporting that U.S. and British forces controlled the city and the port.

    "They want to deceive their people first because now they are in a very shabby situation," he said. "It's a small town, it has only a few docks ... now they are in a trap.

    "Iraqi forces are still in control of the city, and they are engaging in an attrition war with the enemy."

    Al Sahaf confirmed, however, that coalition missiles hit the Baghdad building housing Iraq's TV and radio station early Wednesday, but said the rocket had been downed by Iraqi forces and did not explode.

 
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