April 8 —
U.S. forces set up a base in central Baghdad and a warplane
dropped bunker-busting bombs aimed at President Saddam Hussein and
his two sons. As the coalition's confidence grew, President Bush met
with British Prime Minister Tony Blair to discuss the battlefield
and plans for a postwar Iraq.
Iraqi forces staged a counterattack in the capital shortly after
dawn Tuesday, sending buses and trucks full of fighters to overrun
U.S. forces holding a strategic intersection. U.S. troops strafed
the Iraqis from planes overhead and with mortar and artillery fire.
Within an hour, U.S. tanks retook the intersection. At least 50
Iraqi fighters were killed, and two U.S. soldiers were reported
wounded, one seriously, by snipers on rooftops.
In the midst of Monday's assault on Baghdad, a lone B-1B bomber
carried out a massive strike the coalition described as a
"leadership target," in an upscale neighborhood where senior Iraqi
officials, possibly including Saddam and his two sons, were believed
to be meeting. U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity,
said American intelligence learned of the high-level meeting Monday
It was not clear who was killed; the strike left a smoking crater
of dirt and concrete 60 feet deep and destroyed three nearby houses.
Iraqi rescue workers pulled two bodies from the rubble, but said the
toll could be as high as 14.
Unlike previous raids into the capital, U.S. forces "remained in
Baghdad overnight and are still there," said Navy Capt. Frank Thorp,
at Central Command. "There has been no organized resistance or
effort to displace the coalition forces."
Members of the 2nd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division hunkered
down for the night in the sprawling, blue-and-gold-domed New
Presidential Palace, where Saddam once slept. At least a dozen
Iraqis were being held in a hastily erected holding pen on the
As American and British troops advanced in Iraq, their political
leaders were meeting in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It was the second
summit for Bush and Blair since the fighting began. At a press
conference, the leaders said they were committed to rebuilding the
"When the war is finished, it will not be easy, but we're going
to see it through. The free Iraq will be ruled by law and not by a
dictator," Bush said. "A free Iraq will give up all its weapons of
mass destruction. A free Iraq will set itself on the path of
As airstrikes continued Tuesday, Arab satellite network
Al-Jazeera reported its office was bombed, killing one staffer.
While the network's cameras rolled, a second bomb fell in the same
neighborhood on the Tigris, where a number of TV channels have
offices. Abu Dhabi TV said its office had also been hit.
Later, the Palestine Hotel, home base for many journalists, was
struck by what was believed to be tank fire. Four Reuters staff
members were injured in the blast, the British news agency said.
Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf was speaking
to reporters outside the hotel when it was hit. He dismissed a
question on whether Iraq would surrender.
"The capital, especially the commandos, are getting ready to wipe
them out," he said. "All is under control."
In southeastern Baghdad, the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines took over
a prison overnight, where they found U.S. army uniforms and chemical
weapons suits, possibly from captured U.S. soldiers. Shortly after
dawn, the Marines were attacked by Iraqis firing rocket-propelled
grenades and AK-47s; Marine snipers shot more than a dozen of
Other Marines were sent to guard a nuclear plant Tuesday. Near
the airport, soldiers with the Army's 101st Airborne Division killed
two Iraqis in a gunbattle at a former Republican Guard
Defense officials said samples of a suspicious material found in
Iraq are being tested for the presence of chemical weapons. Soldiers
with the Army's 101st Airborne Division found the substance in metal
drums in a compound near the city of Hindiyah, about 85 miles south
of Baghdad. It was possible the substance was a pesticide, since it
was found at an agricultural site, a local commander said.
If the discovery is confirmed, it would be the first chemical
weapons find of the war. Finding and eliminating Saddam Hussein's
chemical and biological weapons was stated as a goal of the U.S.-led
invasion of Iraq, and finding such weapons of mass destruction could
mute international criticism of the war.
At the United Nations, a group of 22 Arab countries decided late
Monday to push for a General Assembly resolution calling for a
cease-fire in Iraq. They are certain to face U.S. opposition.
The group will seek a "very mild" resolution, said Yemen's U.N.
Ambassador Abdullah Alsaidi. "It will ask for a cease-fire, respect
for Iraqi sovereignty, territorial integrity. It will ask for the
unity of Iraq."
Central Command said Tuesday that nearly 85,000 U.S. servicemen
and British troops took part in Monday's attacks in southeast
Baghdad and the southern city of Basra. They seized five weapons
caches consisting of more than 10 tons of ordnance, including a
number of missiles. The coalition has also taken more than 3,500
prisoners since the conflict began, Central Command said.
|U.S. Army Lt. Lars Nadig from A
Company 3rd Battalion 7th Infantry Regiment reads a military
map as a bullet casing flies into the air during an exchange
with Iraqi forces firing on them from across the Tigris River
in Baghdad Monday, April 7, 2003. The unopened bottle of
French wine, vintage 1983, was found in a bombed house
adjacent to the a presidential palace which American troops
took over earlier Monday.(AP Photo/John
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