April 5 —
A day-by-day look at key developments around the world during the
last week of the Iraq war:
SUNDAY, March 30:
The U.S. military's word for the day: patience.
As American troops inched toward Baghdad, and one U.S. senator
questioned the pace of the war, Gen. Richard Myers urged everyone to
"We have the power to be patient in this, and we're not going to
do anything before we're ready," the chairman of the Joint Chief of
Staff said. Not even the complaints of U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller,
D-W.Va., could shake Myers' implacable demeanor.
Gen. Tommy Franks, the coalition commander, offered this
assessment: "One never knows how long a war will take."
The death toll for coalition forces grew as a Marine UH-1 Huey
helicopter crashed at a forward supply and refueling point in
southern Iraq, killing three American servicemen and wounding
In Baghdad, missile attacks hit military facilities at the Abu
Gharayb presidential palace, several telephone exchanges, the Karada
military intelligence complex and the barracks of a paramilitary
MONDAY, March 31:
The assault on Iraqi forces proceeded with bombings in Baghdad
and battles outside the capital. The war for support of the Iraqi
people suffered a major blow.
U.S. troops, still edgy from a suicide attack that killed four
American soldiers, shot and killed seven Iraqi civilians when their
van failed to stop at a checkpoint. Some of the victims were
children, providing another item for the Iraqi regime's propaganda
mantra that the United States is targeting civilians.
U.S.-led troops fought fiercely with the Republican Guard in
Hindiyah, within 50 miles of Baghdad, with at least 35 Iraqis killed
and several dozen captured. Coalition warplanes pounded Baghdad and
dozens of other Iraqi positions.
On Iraqi television, footage was aired of Saddam Hussein with
sons Odai and Qusai at a meeting of top military commanders. There
was no way of determining when the video was shot.
TUESDAY, April 1:
In Palestine, W.Va., population 935, folks were ecstatic.
Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch, a 19-year-old Palestine resident
captured nine days earlier, was rescued in a daring mission halfway
around the world. Acting on a tip, U.S. commandos hustled her out of
Saddam Hospital in the southern city of Nasiriyah under cover of
The same operation also found 11 bodies two in a hospital morgue
and nine buried outside the building. Some were believed to be
Around the holy city of Karbala, U.S. forces battled Republican
Guard troops in the first major ground fighting with Saddam
Hussein's top units. Baghdad was rocked yet again by aerial attacks,
with white smoke rising from Saddam's Old Palace compound.
WEDNESDAY, April 2:
They were the Iraqi's toughest fighters, their best-trained
troops, the last line of defense.
But two divisions of Republican Guard were quickly dispatched by
U.S.-led forces moving inexorably toward Baghdad. The Medina and
Baghdad divisions were "no longer credible forces," said Maj. Gen.
Stanley McChrystal, vice director of joint operations for the Joint
Chiefs of Staff.
U.S. ground troops seized bridges across the Tigris and Euphrates
rivers, then advanced within 25 miles of Baghdad. An Iraqi spokesman
read a statement from Saddam declaring "victory is at hand."
In the holy city of Najaf, Iraqi soldiers allegedly fired at
American troops from inside one of the world's most important Shiite
shrines, the Mosque of Ali. Coalition forces said they did not
Six U.S. soldiers were killed when an Army Black Hawk helicopter
went down near the city of Karla, 50 miles south of Baghdad
Jessica Lynch, suffering from two broken legs and a fractured
arm, was flown to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany
THURSDAY, April 3:
The lights went out in Baghdad, and the skies lit up over Saddam
The Iraqi capital was plunged into darkness as U.S.-led forces
closed in on the city, although coalition officials said they had
not targeted the power system. Ten miles southwest of the city, Army
units attacked Saddam International Airport and fought with Iraqi
troops along a six-mile stretch of roadway.
In northern Iraq, U.S. warplanes continued pounding Iraqi troops
even after they retreated from strategic hilltop positions. In the
south, more than 150 hard-line Iraqi fighters remained holed up
inside the Mosque of Ali the only section of Najaf not under the
control of coalition forces.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said there was "not a
chance" that Washington would cut a deal with Saddam to end the war.
U.S. forces raided the Tharthar presidential palace near Tikrit,
Saddam's hometown, but found no senior members of the regime.
FRIDAY, April 4:
Welcome to Baghdad International Airport.
American soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division seized control
of Saddam International Airport and quickly rechristened it. U.S.
officials said the facility could be in use by Sunday, allowing the
coalition to bring in military and humanitarian supplies right
outside Saddam's capital.
Baghdad's population was dropping from its normal 5 million, as
thousands of people fled in anticipation of a siege or a battle for
their city. Hundreds of trucks, buses and cars overflowing with
people, possessions and food were backed up for miles on roads
For those residents staying in Baghdad, Saddam issued a televised
message of resistance: "Hit them hard, hit them with the force of
belief whenever they approach you, and resist them, you the people
of the brave, glorious Baghdad."
In western Iraq, an apparent suicide attack a car explosion
similar to the March 29 attack in south-central Iraq killed three
coalition soldiers at a checkpoint 80 miles from the Syrian border.
The driver was killed, along with a pregnant woman who ran from the
car screaming in fear, U.S. officials said.
SATURDAY, April 5:
U.S. forces went to town.
American armored vehicles drove through Baghdad on Saturday, at
least briefly, after smashing through Iraqi Republican Guard
Air Force Maj. Gen. Gene Renuart called it "a clear statement of
the ability of coalition forces to move into Baghdad at the time and
place of their choosing."
Marines with bayonets fixed battled pro-Saddam volunteers from
Jordan, Egypt and Sudan in a marsh on the capital's outskirts.
Armed men Iraqi troops, militiamen and Baath Party loyalists took
positions at intersections and main routes out of the capital.
The international Red Cross said Baghdad hospitals struggled to
cope with several hundred wounded and also received dozens of
In southern Iraq, two coalition aircraft struck the Basra villa
of Saddam's cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, dubbed "Chemical Ali" for
his alleged role in a chemical weapons attack on Kurds.
Two Marine pilots were killed Saturday when their Super Cobra
attack helicopter crashed in central Iraq.
And the Pentagon confirmed the first combat death of an American
woman in the war Pfc. Lori Ann Piestewa, 23, of Tuba City, Ariz.
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