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Coalition Troops Head for Basra

Posted March. 21, 2003 22:21,   


While coalition combat units from the U.S., Britain, and Australia launched an additional air raid on major facilities in Baghdad, land forces which had been lined up at the border between Iraq and Kuwait finally pushed into Iraq territory. So now the war with Iraq in 15 hours after the first strike escalated into all-out war and with all land, sea and air forces in combat.

U.S.`s 1st Marine Division, 7th Armored Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division and British Royal Marine secured bridgeheads at Umm Qasr, a southern port city of Iraq, and al-Faw peninsula, Iraq`s key export point supported by artillery barrages, reported foreign news agencies on Friday at 8 a.m. (Friday 2 p.m. KST)

U.S. troops are marching toward Basra, the biggest oil export city in Southern Iraq the Iranian government-controlled, Islamic Republic News Agency as reported by Australian ABC broadcasting. U.S. Marines waited outside Basra and began surrender negotiations with Iraqi Army Commander as reported by the Australian Broadcasting Station and British Daily Telegraph.

If Basra falls to allied forces, Iraqi military forces deployed on the 560km connected road from Basra to Baghdad will be sapped of their military strength dramatically, and this war could soon become a street fight in Baghdad.

Coalition forces from the U.S. and Britain also launched missiles on Baghdad and destroyed the office of Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz and Saddam Hussein’s main presidential palace on Friday at 9 p.m. There have been 4 air-raids altogether, however it’s still unknown whether Saddam is dead or alive. 30 oil wells had been deliberately set ablaze in southern Iraq by Iraqi troops, said British Defense Minister Geoff Hoon in an interview with BBC on Friday.

Saddam Hussein made a speech on a national TV broadcast which seems to be prerecorded, “U.S. and British coalition forces are spreading dirty rumors to destroy our morale” and he emphasized that the “Iraqi people and military will never surrender regardless of how strong the threat is.”

Meanwhile, a U.S. marine helicopter crashed in northern Kuwait, killing 16 U.S. and British coalition soldiers. Several Iraqis also were killed including 6 Iraqi soldiers in combat, reported foreign news agencies.

Rae-Jeong Park ecopark@donga.com