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March 22, 2003
 
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Iraqi, U.S. Forces Clash Near Najaf -Iraq TV

Reuters


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BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi troops clashed with U.S.-led forces in the desert near the holy city of Najaf, 100 miles south of the capital Baghdad, Iraqi television reported on Sunday.

The report said the leader of President Saddam Hussein's Baath party in Najaf was killed in the clashes, the closest ground fighting to the capital since U.S. and British forces launched a war against the Iraqi regime on Thursday.

Iraqi TV said the U.S.-led forces fled after the clash.

A spokesman for U.S. forces in Kuwait had no comment on the report.

The U.S. military says it has secured a bridge across the Euphrates river at the city of Nassiriya, 375 km (235 miles) southeast of Baghdad. Najaf also lies on the western banks of the Euphrates, but much closer to the capital.

Najaf has a population of around 420,000, and is home to the shrine of Imam Ali, a figure revered by Shi'ite Muslims.

Shi'ites make up the majority of the population of southern Iraq, but Saddam's government is dominated by Sunnis. A Shi'ite rebellion in the south was crushed by Saddam's forces after the 1991 Gulf War.

Copyright 2003 Reuters News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
 
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