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2003-03-21

Tens of Thousands of U.S. Troops Race Through Southern Iraq As the Bombing of Baghdad Continues: A Report On Civilian Casualties From Baghdad

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The ground war has started.

Tens of thousands of U.S. and British ground forces are racing through southern Iraq in an attempt to seize the city of Basra and key oil installations.

In the Faw peninsula, U.S. Navy and British commandos have seized oil shipping and pumping facilities along the Persian Gulf. The Marine 1st Expeditionary Force is moving toward seizing control of Iraq’s southern oil fields, where several wells were reported to be ablaze.

A US helicopter crashed early today just south of the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr. Four U.S. crew members and eight British Royal Marines were killed. The helicopter went down after encountering haze from a burning oil field. We are just learning that a U.S. soldier died in combat a few hours ago. U.S. forces killed at least 14 Iraqi soldiers in fierce fighting at key oil installations.

The US attacks from the air continue. Bombs rained down on Baghdad last night.

Pentagon sources say in Baghdad 24 Tomahawk missiles targeted strongholds of Iraq’s elite Special Republican Guard, as well as Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s main presidential palace and the offices of Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz. The official Iraqi news agency said 37 civilians were wounded in the raid.

It appears the U.S. military has yet to unleash the major air campaign they have dubbed "shock and awe."

The Washington Post is reporting that some U.S. officials believe the opening attacks yesterday struck a bunker where Saddam Hussein and one or two of his sons were sleeping. One administration official said evidence shows Hussein was at least injured in the attack or possibly killed. A source close to Hussein told the Washington Post that the man who appeared on TV after the first attacks was not Saddam Hussein. Iraqi sources said the president was safe.

Yesterday, we were able to reach independent journalist Mei Ying Welsh in Baghdad as the bombing resumed.

She described what its like to be under US bombing, and talked about her experience meeting the civilians who were injured in the first US bombing.

  • Mei Ying Welsh, independent journalist.

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