BAGHDAD, Iraq April 10 —
U.S. forces battled holdout fighters Thursday at a palace and a
mosque in Baghdad; one Marine was killed and up to 20 wounded. In
the north, America's Kurdish allies achieved a major breakthrough
entering the city of Kirkuk near some of Iraq's most productive oil
President Bush, in a remarks televised throughout Iraq, told its
citizens, "The long era of fear and cruelty is ending... the future
of your country will soon belong to you."
Both skirmishes and widespread looting continued in Baghdad, a
day after U.S. officials declared that Saddam Hussein's regime was
no longer in control. U.S. Central Command said Marines engaged in
"intense fighting" with pro-Saddam forces at the Imam Mosque, the Az
Amihyah Palace and the house of a Baath party leader.
Capt. Frank Thorp, a command spokesman, said U.S. troops acted on
information that regime leaders were trying to organize a meeting in
the area. During the operations, he said, Marines were fired on from
the mosque compound.
Thorp said he didn't know if Saddam was among those trying to
organize the meeting, and he had no information on any regime
leaders being captured or killed.
That engagement aside, the largely one-sided battle for Baghdad
appeared nearly over, and U.S. commanders were focusing on plans to
oust pro-Saddam forces from their handful of remaining strongholds
in the north including Saddam's heavily defended hometown of Tikrit
and the cities of Mosul and Kirkuk near the northern oil fields.
A convoy of Kurdish fighters drove into an industrial
neighborhood of Kirkuk on Thursday. There was shooting on the
northwest edge of the city, but the extent of pro-Saddam resistance
After Wednesday's momentous celebrations, and after perhaps the
quietest night since the war began, Baghdad residents were back out
on the streets Thursday.
Motorists flew white flags on their vehicles. Many people
embarked on a new wave of looting, setting fires to some Interior
Ministry buildings and making off with carpets, furniture, TVs and
air conditioners from government-owned apartments, abandoned
government offices and the police academy.
Also looted was the German Embassy representing a government that
had emphatically opposed the U.S. decision to go to war.
In Saddam City, a densely population Shiite Muslim district in
Baghdad, some residents set up roadblocks, confiscated loot being
brought back from the city in wheelbarrows and pushcarts, and sent
the booty to a nearby mosque.
Some U.S. units received word Thursday that they should try to
stop the looting, but strategies for doing so remained
"There's civilian looting like crazy, all over the place," said
Lance Cpl. Darren Pickard of Merced, Calif. "There just aren't
enough of us to clear it out."
One Baghdad man, Adel Naji al-Tamimi, 49, said had spent 17 years
in prison for writing anti-Saddam articles.
"He made himself a legend and a myth," al-Tamimi said. "His
atrocities and oppression controlled our feelings and we're still
In many parts of the country, civilians struggled with serious
shortages of food, medicine and clean water. Several major
international aid groups are demanding swift access to Iraqi
civilians, without interference from U.S. or British troops.
"We need the independence to move around and do our assessments
and we need security," said Kathleen Hunt of Care International.
"The images we see on television (of widespread looting) are not
very encouraging in terms of lawlessness in certain parts of the
Hoping to restore some degree of order to the southern city of
Basra, British troops Thursday asked residents to turn in their guns
no questions asked.
"If we want to give the new Iraq a chance, these weapons have to
be taken out of circulation," said Capt. Cliff Dare of 3 Commando
Brigade Engineer Group.
Humanitarian assistance is expected to be high on the agenda of
the U.S.-led interim administration that is expected to begin
operating in Baghdad within the next week or two. Headed by retired
U.S. Gen. Jay Garner, the team will coordinate relief programs,
rebuild shattered infrastructure and start setting up a democratic
Vestiges of the old government were vanishing rapidly. Statues
and portraits of Saddam were toppled and defaced in Baghdad and
other cities, while Iraqi diplomats at some embassies abroad
shredded or burned documents. Iraq's U.N. ambassador, Mohammed
Al-Douri, told reporters "the game is over, and I hope peace will
Saddam's precise fate remained unknown. Hoping to resolve the
mystery, U.S. special operations forces examined a site in a Baghdad
residential neighborhood that was bombed Monday based on
intelligence that Saddam and at least one of his sons were
Though elated by the U.S.-led coalition's success, Defense
Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said several missions remain to be
accomplished before any victory declaration. Among them: securing
the northern oil fields, determining what happened to Saddam and his
sons, uncovering details of Saddam's weapons programs, and capturing
or killing any terrorists still at large in Iraq.
Across the Arab world, the fall of Baghdad and the televised
scenes of jubilation and looting provoked shock, disbelief and
bitterness. Some Arabs expressed hope that other oppressive regimes
in the region would crumble; others were disappointed that Saddam's
forces offered such weak resistance to America.
After an anti-war march in Khartoum, Sudan, lawyer Ali al-Sayed
said U.S. troops should not misinterpret the rejoicing in Baghdad as
an invitation to stay.
"Those people under oppression ... they will be happy to see
someone removing a dictator and liberating them," al-Sayed said.
"But the moment they feel free and liberated, they will not tolerate
a foreign presence."
The celebrations in Baghdad took place 21 days after U.S. forces
started the war with an airstrike intended to kill Saddam. According
to the Pentagon, 101 American troops died in the first three weeks
of the war, 11 were missing and seven were listed as captured. The
British said 30 of their troops were dead. There are no reliable
estimates for Iraqi casualties; an Army spokesman said 7,300
prisoners had been taken.
This story was written by David Crary in New York, based on
reporting from Ellen Knickmeyer, Ravi Nessman, Chris Tomlinson and
Hamza Hendawi in Baghdad and other AP reporters in Iraq and
|Lance Cpl. Stephen Ferris of
Walpole, Mass., left, with India Co., 3rd Batt., 7th Marines,
1st Marine Division, advances on the headquarters of the
Fedayeen in Baghdad on Wednesday, April 9, 2003. The Fedayeen
are a secret fighting force controlled by Saddam Hussein. (AP
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