US troops have reached the Baghdad airport after fierce fighting with Iraqi forces and are closing in on the Iraqi capital from two directions. The Pentagon says they are just six miles from the edge of the city.
US commanders claim they have effectively destroyed the Medina and Baghdad Republican Guard divisions defending the approaches to Baghdad. They say some 500 Iraqi troops were killed including members of the Special Republican Guard, in fighting for a key bridge some 20 miles southwest of Baghdad.
U.S. forces are poised to attack the city of 5 million people.
The Guardian of London reports US forces may try to learn from Israeli tactics when they launch the largest US attack on an urban area in decades. Pentagon strategists have poured over video of the Israeli military assault on Jenin a year ago. Estimates of Palestinians killed in the raid range from 52 up to several hundred. Of the confirmed Palestinian dead, over half of them were civilians. 23 Israeli soldiers were also killed.
1,000 U.S. soldiers were sent to Israel for joint maneuvers earlier this year.
- Chris McGreal, reporter for the Guardian newspaper in London. He wrote an article published in the Guardian yesterday called " Send In the Bulldozers: What Israel Told US Marines About Urban Battles." He’s speaking to us from Jerusalem.
- Shlomo Brom, retired Brigadier General with the Israeli military. From 1990 to 1998 he served as Deputy Chief and then Chief of the Strategic Planning Division of the Israeli Defense Forces. He now works at the Jaffee Centre for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University.
- Will Hewitt, describing how an Israeli bulldozer ran over and killed US peace activist Rachel Corrie last month, (recorded on Democracy Now!, March 17, 2003).
- Adam Shapiro, Jewish-American activist with the International Solidarity Movement who is currently a graduate student at American University.