major battle in basra

  1. 252 Posts.
    Are we man enough to acknowledge the Iraqis' and human shields' courage as well?

    A US Marine captain says United States Marine tanks are battling Iraqi forces on the western outskirts of Basra.

    "We are attacking Iraqi forces, all of which are west of Basra," Captain Andrew Bergen told reporters in the Basra region.

    "I would certainly say it's a major battle."

    Marine Cobra attack helicopters taking part in the battle can be seen circling overhead.

    Captain Bergen says he is not aware of any casualties on the US side, but that an armoured vehicle used to retrieve damaged tanks had been hit by a rocket-propelled brigade.

    A British military spokesman says US-led forces are attempting to negotiate the surrender of Basra.

    "We would rather use negotiation rather than military muscle to achieve any success," Group Captain Al Lockwood, main spokesman at the Qatar command headquarters of US and British forces in the Gulf, told Reuters.

    "I understand that there is some sort of contact but I am unable to divulge that at this time."

    British Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon says regular units of the Iraqi forces appear to have pulled out of the town.

    "Our forces are close to Basra," Mr Hoon said. "It appears to be the case that regular Iraqi armed forces have withdrawn."

    Satellite channel Al Jazeera reports some 50 people have been killed in the bombardment.

    The station says the toll was compiled from a tour of hospitals made by its correspondent in the city.


    An AFP correspondent reports three explosions have been heard in Baghdad, although air raid sirens did not sound.

    The origin of the explosions was not immediately known but journalists were told to leave the information ministry's press centre immediately and return to their hotels.

    Earlier, Al Jazeera says at least three missiles were heard striking in or around Baghdad at 5:30am local time (1:30pm AEDT).

    Reports say two explosions struck central Baghdad, shaking the city and sending fresh plumes of smoke into the sky.

    Ambulances are rushing through the streets and a large mushroom cloud of white smoke is billowing over the city where fires are still smouldering from Friday's attack.

    The dawn attacks come after a night in which the capital was pummelled by hundreds of Tomahawk cruise missiles.

    Huge mushroom clouds of smoke and debris were sent into the night sky.

    A US defence official says US and British air forces flew 1,000 strike sorties and fired 1,000 cruise missiles into Iraq.

    In the north, Mosul was bombed and explosions were heard in the city of Kirkuk.


    People acting as "human shields" in Baghdad witnessed the attacks.

    Australian woman Donna Mulhearn saw the bombardment from a water treatment plant in the north-west of the capital.

    She says she is with 15 other "human shields" and has seen missiles drop, big explosions, and buildings ablaze.

    Another human shield, Rory McKeon from Scotland, watched the attack from the rooftop of a hotel in the city.

    "They've been battering the city, as I said they've been hitting the targets that they want but they've just hit something I can see it from my hotel window," he said.

    "A quarter-mile radius has been destroyed, flattened, the roof of my hotel is black.

    "This is a city of five million people - this is mass murder."

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