Tuesday, April 8, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

US forces seize Saddam’s palace
*Troops walk unopposed in Basra
*WMD ‘cocktail’ found near Kerbala

Baghdad, April 7
The US troops took control of President Saddam Hussein’s main presidential palace in Baghdad and entered a second palace this morning, the US military said.

“We have seized the main presidential palace in downtown Baghdad...There are two palaces down there and we are in both of them,” Lieut-Colonel Pete Bayer told Reuters reporter Luke Baker.

Bayer said 65 US tanks and 40 Bradley fighting vehicles took part in today’s operation, which took the war to oust Saddam to the centre of the Iraqi capital.

A Russian diplomat wounded in Iraq and his colleague arrive at the Russian Embassy
A Russian diplomat wounded in Iraq and his colleague arrive at the Russian
Embassy in Damascus on Monday. — Reuters photo

“(The operation) has been highly successful so far. What we are trying to gauge is what his (Saddam’s) response is,” said Bayer, operations officer in the 3rd US infantry division.

He said there were no reports of any casualties so far among US forces. He added that the US forces were now probing the north-west districts of the Iraqi capital.

Meanwhile, US Marines said they had managed to cross a tributary to the east of Baghdad today despite damage inflicted on two bridges by Iraqis trying to slow their advance towards the capital.

“Elements of the 7th Marine are now on the western side of the Nahr Diyala river,” Lieutenant Lew Craparotta told Reuters correspondent Sean Maguire.

Mr Maguire said he could see US tanks and armoured vehicles on the western bank pounding positions of the Iraqi Special Republican Guard, loyal to President Saddam Hussein.

The Marines, said they had used bridge-laying machines to create a new crossing along side one of the destroyed bridges.

According to a Reuters witness three bombs fell to the south of central Baghdad today as an aerial assault on the city resumed.

Correspondent Samia Nakhoul said the bombing resumed after a morning lull in the air campaign against Baghdad while US ground forces had moved into the city.

Earlier, two bombs hit the centre of Baghdad and several more struck the outskirts of the Iraqi capital in dawn raids.

BASRA: At least 400 British and US troops, guarded by tanks and helicopter gunships, walked unopposed almost to the centre of Iraq’s second city, Basra, for the first time on Monday on the 19th day of war.

Reuters correspondent Rosalind Russell, accompanying the troops, said four Cobra helicopters were swooping low over the old part of the southern city where a British military spokesman said earlier there was still some resistance.

The troops, who were not wearing chemical protection suits, walked northwards along the Baghdad street to with in a few hundred metres of the heart of Basra. No firing was heard.

Residents on the streets, including women and children, smiled at the passing troops and said “very good, very good” in English. Some asked for water from the troops.

“This (reception) is more than we could have hoped for. We took part in the raid yesterday and today it’s a completely different city,” said Major Chris Brannigan of the Royal Scots Dragoons Guards.

KERBALA: Preliminary tests on substances found at a military training camp in central Iraq suggest they contained a cocktail of banned chemical weapons, including deadly nerve agents, US officers said today.

Major Michael Hamlet of the US 101st Airborne Division said the initial tests revealed levels of nerve agents sarin and tabun and the blister agent lewisite. Major Hamlet said a team of experts would carry out further tests as early as tomorrow on the substances, discovered at the camp in Albu Mahawish, on the Euphrates river between the central Iraqi cities of Kerbala and Hilla, site of ancient Babylon. Reuters

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