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Hussein's Ba'ath Party Hangouts Blasted; 200 Killed in Air Attacks

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 29, 2003 – U.S. and coalition aircraft yesterday blasted nine meeting places favored by Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party officials and paramilitary chiefs.

At least 200 Ba'ath members and paramilitary leaders affiliated with the Hussein regime were killed in the night attacks, which occurred northeast of Basra, Army Brig. Gen. Vince Brooks told reporters today in Qatar. The deputy operations officer for U.S. Central Command, Brooks said ground-based special operations troops provided coordinates that guided the bombs to their targets.

Air support was also given to coalition ground forces operating in the Samawah and Rutbah areas, he noted.

Coalition troops also successfully attacked an Iraqi commando headquarters complex, he reported, and netted 50 Iraqi troops as prisoners, plus ammunition, gas masks and radios.

American-led air assaults dropped 1,000-pound bombs on Republican Guard units deployed around Baghdad, Brooks continued, destroying missile sites and fuel depots.

At a later Pentagon press briefing, defense spokesman Army Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal maintained there is no supply problem for U.S. and coalition troops fighting in Iraq.

"Water, food and munitions are getting forward in the quantities that they need," he said, while acknowledging that supplying troops during wartime "is always a challenge."

The two-star Army general also confirmed a U.S. Central Command updated report that said four, not five, U.S. soldiers died in an apparent suicide bombing today at a road checkpoint near Najaf, Iraq.

Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke noted that Saddam Hussein's terrorist attacks against U.S. and coalition troops have had no operational effect. U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq "continue to make extraordinary progress," she emphasized.

Saddam Hussein must now face the fact that after a little more than a week of fighting, U.S. and coalition troops have taken control of big chunks of Iraq and are now just 50 miles from Baghdad, she concluded.

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