US troops, tanks, and armored vehicles rolled in and occupied the capitol with only scattered resistance. Thousands of residents poured into the streets. They celebrated, greeted US troops with cheers and even flowers, looted, and tore down symbols of Saddam’s rule. It is the first time in history that the United States has occupied an Arab capital.
In the most dramatic moment, a moment that was broadcast around the world, a group of Iraqis gathered around the gigantic statue of Saddam Hussein in Al-Fardus Square. They tried to cut down the statue with a sledgehammer but had little luck. Then US marines roped the statue to an armored personnel carrier. One US marine climbed to the top and covered Hussein’s head with an American flag. The American flag was quickly removed and an old Iraqi flag hung around Saddam’s neck.
Then, the Marines toppled the statue.
One resident told journalist Robert Fisk: “You’ll see the celebrations and we will be happy Saddam has gone. But we will then want to rid ourselves of the Americans and we will want to keep our oil and there will be resistance and then they will call us “terrorists.”
- Andrew Buncombe, reporter with the Independent of London. He is reporting now in Iraq.