April 13 —
Joining forces in a city of shattered order and ransacked
history, U.S. troops and Iraqi police are setting up patrols to rein
in waves of thievery in Baghdad. Marines rolled north to confront
what could be Saddam Hussein's last holdouts.
A wild firefight outside a Baghdad hotel Saturday and the threat
of suicide bombings kept American soldiers wrapped in the urgent
business of putting down armed resistance in the capital even as
They accepted the surrender of Saddam's Hussein's science
adviser, the first top official of the Saddam era taken into
custody, among 55 being sought. Lt. Gen. Amer al-Saadi is likely to
know about any Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, but insisted Iraq
Restraining mobs of looters was a rapidly growing priority.
Robbing history itself, thieves pillaged the Iraq National
Museum, stealing or destroying artifacts going back 7,000 years
predating even Babylon. The loss resonated through Baghdad and
around the world.
"This is Iraq's civilization," said a tearful museum employee.
"And it's all gone now." At Emory University in Atlanta, historian
Gordon Newby said: "This is just one of the most tragic things that
could happen for our being able to understand the past."
Iraqis who had warmly welcomed Americans in the capital last week
were growing resentful at the persistent disorder, noting the troops
often just stood by as people stormed government offices, schools,
hospitals and homes.
U.S. officials were dispatching the first contingent of 1,200
American police and judicial officers to help troops put a lid on
Iraqi police, quickly adapting to the new power order, worked
with U.S. Marines to set up joint patrols that would start work in a
day or two.
"Anyone who carries a weapon or fires a weapon, we will fire at,"
Iraqi police Col. Mohammed Zaki said. Marine Staff. Sgt. Jeremy
Stafford said of the arrangement: "It's going to happen sooner
rather than later."
The looting of the Baghdad bureaucracy raised concerns that any
documents tied to Iraqi chemical, biological or nuclear weapons
programs might disappear along with all the treasures.
Al-Saadi arranged his surrender with the help of Germany's ZDF
television network, which filmed him leaving his Baghdad villa with
his German wife, Helga, and presenting himself to an American
warrant officer, who escorted him away.
Everywhere there were reminders that the climactic taking of
Baghdad did not mean the war was over:
Ninety miles to the north, in Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, his
loyalists were believed laying in wait, although their will to fight
was an open question. A contingent of the 1st Marine Expeditionary
Force, described only as significant in size, headed toward that
city to challenge whatever it found.
To the west, U.S. forces intercepted a busload of 59 men driving
toward the Syrian border. They had $630,000 in cash and a letter
offering rewards for killing American soldiers.
In Baghdad, Marines at an elementary school uncovered a cache of
310 suicide-bomb vests, at least 160 of them packed with explosives
and ball bearings and the rest just with explosives, U.S. Central
Command reported. Elsewhere in the city, a Marine was shot and
killed at a checkpoint outside a medical facility by a man carrying
a Syrian identification card, Central Command said. The Syrian man
was shot and killed by Marines while a second attacker fled. As
evening fell, a gun battle broke out by the Palestine Hotel along
the Tigris River; the crackle of machine gun fire and explosions
were heard as Marines ran from tree to tree.
Measured steps toward stability were taken, too.
In Kirkuk, a vital northern oil city taken from Iraqi regime
forces, Kurds, Arabs and ethnic Turks began working on a cooperative
arrangement to govern without the ethnic strife threatening to flare
in the post-Saddam era.
Kurdish fighters who took over the city said they would yield to
the Americans once enough of them arrived to secure law and
Looting diminished Saturday in another northern city, Mosul, a
day after pro-Saddam defense forces dissolved and U.S. forces moved
in. A Mosul hospital reported 10 people had been killed in
Arab-Kurdish violence that broke out as control of the city changed
Jessica Lynch, the Army private and prisoner of war who was
rescued in a commando raid, and four dozen other wounded U.S.
soldiers arrived in Washington from Germany on Saturday for further
treatment of their injuries.
Lynch, 19, from Palestine, W.Va., suffered a head wound, spinal
injury, fractures to her right arm, both legs, and more injuries
from an ambush of her 507th Maintenance Company convoy on March 23
and her capture.
Central Command said three Marines previously listed as missing
had been killed in action as a result of combat operations around
Nasiriyah the same day as the maintenance company's ambush.
With heavy air strikes subsided, the U.S. Navy said it may soon
send two of the three aircraft carrier battle groups in the Persian
Gulf back to their home ports the USS Kitty Hawk to Yokosuka, Japan;
and the USS Constellation to San Diego.
But ground forces are swelling. The 4th Infantry Division has
begun moving into Iraq from Kuwait and the 1st Cavalry Division is
still preparing to deploy, officials said. Both divisions are based
at Fort Hood, Texas.
U.S. forces reopened two strategic bridges in the heart of
Baghdad, a step that only spurred the looters by giving them access
to territory they had been unable to reach.
The two-story mansion of Tariq Aziz, a familiar face to
Westerners as Iraqi deputy prime minister under Saddam, was also
pillaged. Thieves stripped light fixtures, appliances, wall sockets,
chandeliers, furniture and carpets leaving a smattering of books on
the floor, including one titled "The Great Iraqi Revolution."
The U.S. Central Command said many Iraqi fighters who were
believed to have regrouped in Tikrit may have fled in the face of
heavy airstrikes, and the remnants may not muster an effective
defense in or around the city.
"We may find that there's not much fight left, but some of the
recent operations indicate that there's still some fighting to do
even in those areas," said Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, deputy
director of operations for the command.
Tikrit has been a power center for Iraq's Sunni Muslim tribes,
who may plan to resist as long as possible out of fear of losing
power to the Shiite Muslim majority.
U.S. officials said Saturday that the first humanitarian flights
had arrived at Baghdad's international airport since the American
takeover two C-130 transport planes with 24,000 pounds of medical
supplies from the Kuwaiti government for hospitals in Baghdad.
Finance officials from the seven richest industrial countries
promised to begin talks on cutting Iraq's foreign debt and agreed to
back a new U.N. Security Council resolution spurring reconstruction
|U.S. Marines take positions on
the east bank of Tigris river during a firefight in Baghdad,
Saturday, April 12, 2003. ( AP Photo/Hussein
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