Parts of Baghdad Still Dangerous for Coalition Troops
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 10, 2003 Following yesterday's scenes of jubilation, there was still fighting overnight in parts of Baghdad, U.S. Central Command officials in Qatar said today.
"Baghdad's still an ugly place," Air Force Maj. Gen. Victor Renuart said. Many parts of the city have not been secured by U.S. forces, he said, and U.S. officials believe there are still pockets of remaining small elements of Republican Guard, Special Republican Guard and paramilitary forces.
Renuart, director of operations for the command, said coalition forces are concentrating on these pockets of resistance.
Combat operations continue in the city, as well as in the northern part of the country and in the west, said Army Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, CENTCOM's deputy operations director. Coalition forces continue to eliminate pockets of regime forces representing the Republican Guard, regular Iraqi units and Ba'ath Party members throughout the country.
"There have been pockets of intense resistance in the center of the city and also near the al-Adham mosque," Brooks said. "At this point, the fighting has ended. We know that the mosque was used, and the area around it, for fighting positions for that intense fight that occurred this morning, and the assessments of the fight are ongoing."
Renuart said that American forces have completed the cordon around Baghdad. U.S. 5th Corps and 1st Marine Expeditionary Force linked up and are covering all roads into and out of the city.
Outside the town of Al Hilla yesterday, units of the 101st Airborne Division attacked and eliminated pockets of resistance. The troopers found a warehouse full of food and supplies that they are distributing to the local population.
In the south, the British 1st Armored Division is expanding its reach north to link up with the 1st MEF. The southern oil fields are completely secure. Experts have inspected about 800 of the more than 1,000 wells in the field and have a handle on what needs to be done to keep them in production.
Renuart said the population of Basra is cooperating with the British forces. He was especially pleased that local clerics are asking for help to stop looting in the city and that some are asking the British to help in enforcing a curfew they have set. Clerics are also asking locals to turn in weapons.
Brooks said that coalition special operations forces "have succeeded in maintaining pressure against Iraqi forces in northern Iraq in the area of Mosul." Kurdish Peshmerga guerilla fighters, with direction from U.S. Special Forces soldiers, have pushed back Iraqi forces there. News reports indicate that the city of Kirkuk fell to the Kurdish fighters, but Central Command officials could not confirm that.
In the west, special operations forces continued actions in al Qaim a strategic town on the Syrian border. Brooks said the area is strategically located on the route that joins Syria and Iraq, and is potentially the site for the launch of ballistic missiles.
Conventional forces with tanks and armored personnel carriers reinforced special operations forces at the Hadithah Dam, Brooks said. "This is a good example of flexibility of the forces involved in the operation," he said.
Coalition air forces continue to put pressure on regime forces. Coalition planes flew 1,650 sorties on April 9, with 550 of them being strike flights. There were 350 tanker sorties and 375 airlift flights. Officials said that about 70 percent of all ordnance dropped is precision- guided.
While combat continues, other coalition service members are working to return utilities to the people of Iraq. Renuart said coalition experts are conducting assessments of the utility systems in Baghdad. They are also conducting surveys of local hospitals to ensure the care of Iraqi citizens.
Humanitarian aid is also flowing into the country. The Spanish ship Galicia docked at Umm Qasr with supplies, a 50-bed facility on board and a fully deployable medical station. Renuart said these contributions are very valuable to the coalition.