BAGHDAD, Iraq April 8 —
Iraqi forces staged a major counterattack Tuesday morning,
sending buses and trucks full of fighters across the Tigris River in
an attempt to overrun U.S. forces holding a strategic intersection
on the western side of Baghdad.
At least 50 Iraqi fighters were killed, said Capt. Philip Wolford
of Marysville, Ohio, commander of A Company, 4th Battalion, of the
Army's 3rd Infantry Division. Two U.S. soldiers were reported
wounded, one seriously, by snipers on rooftops.
U.S. troops strafed the Iraqis from A-10 Warthog attack planes
and opened up with artillery and mortar fire. About an hour after
the firefight began, Wolford moved his tanks and Bradley fighting
vehicles forward again and retook the intersection.
Wolford's unit then began pursuing the remaining Iraqi
The counterattack began shortly after dawn, when more than 20
buses and trucks dropped off dozens of Iraqi foot soldiers firing
assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades at U.S. tanks blocking
an intersection leading to a bridge over the Tigris, Wolford
Two A-10s strafed the building tops and the street with 30mm
rapid-fire cannon that reverberated across the city. Wolford asked
if the jets could also hit bunkers built in a city park.
"If they can hit that bunker complex. we'll be set to go back
in," Wolford told a flight controller, who was directing the
"Two ships are coming in hot," Capt. Todd Smith, the controller,
replied. "How are they are working for you?"
"They're a beautiful thing," Wolford said, after two strafing
The A-10s had to leave to refuel, but soon British Tornado
fighter jets were overhead with precision-guided bombs. Wolford
called for those to hit the buildings occupied by snipers.
Iraqi fighters also appeared to be probing U.S. defenses in other
areas, with short exchanges of fire in other areas. American troops
showed no signs of pulling back.
"We are continuing to maintain our ability to conduct operations
around and in Baghdad. As regime forces are located, they are being
attacked," said Navy Capt. Frank Thorp, a U.S. Central Command
spokesman. "We are continuing to expand areas of influence in the
city, and removing them from regime control."
Five journalists were injured Tuesday when their hotel in Baghdad
was fired on, apparently by a U.S. tank. The Americans said they
were retaliating against snipers shooting at them from the roof of
the Palestine Hotel, where many foreign reporters covering the war
Around daybreak, troops with the Army's 101st Airborne Division
launched an attack on an eight-story former Republican Guard
headquarters about half a mile from the airport. Two Iraqis were
reported killed in the gun battle. There were no U.S.
The Army had come under fire from fighters in the building in
Explosions, the thud of shells landing, anti-aircraft and
machine-gun fire and the drone of aircraft filled the air in Baghdad
at midmorning Tuesday.
For the first time since the war began, residents of the capital
could see, rather than just hear, allied aircraft. A lone fighter
jet flew over Baghdad, swerving, diving and, at times, causing a
boom that rocked the city.
The Arab TV network Al-Jazeera reported that a U.S. plane
attacked its office on the banks of the Tigris River, killing a
Most residents were hunkered down in their homes, with very
little traffic on the streets.
State television went off the air around mid-morning.
|Fires on the southeast side of
Baghdad, Iraq, fill the sky with smoke on Monday, April 7,
2003. (AP Photo/Laura
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