April 11 —
U.S.-led forces expanded their control over Iraq on Friday as
Mosul, largest city in the north, fell without a fight. Saddam
Hussein and his sons are "either dead or they're running like hell,"
said Gen. Tommy Franks, top commander of a war nearly won.
Looting swiftly erupted in Mosul hospital ambulances were taken
at gunpoint and lawlessness continued to plague Baghdad three days
after the collapse of the regime. Increasingly, U.S. troops in the
capital worked to restore order, although pockets of resistance and
suicide bombers remained constant threats.
Saddam's whereabouts remained unknown. President Bush, visiting
wounded troops at military hospitals outside Washington, said he
didn't know whether the Iraqi ruler was dead or alive, but added, "I
know he's no longer in power."
He said the war would end when Franks tells him the objectives of
the military campaign have been met.
Mosul fell when an entire Iraqi Army Corps evaporated, a force of
roughly 30,000 on paper but far less in reality. That left Tikrit,
Saddam's hometown, as the only major population center not under
control of American-led forces. Warplanes bombed Iraqi forces in the
area, and U.S. commanders were planning for stiff resistance in the
coming battle for that city.
The U.S. Central Command issued a deck of 55 cards, each one
bearing the picture of a member of the ruling elite so the troops
could better know who they were searching for. "There are jokers in
this deck," Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks said, and Saddam was the ace
Despite a string of unchecked battlefield gains, and an
announcement that some British naval and air forces were being sent
home, the White House and military commanders said the war wasn't
"There's still plenty of fighting to be done," said Lt. Gen.
William S. Wallace. In Baghdad, he said, the problem lies with the
"knuckleheads ... operating and fighting on the last orders they
were given. They either don't know what is going on or are feeling
obligated to keep fighting on."
U.S. warplanes fired six satellite-guided bombs at an
intelligence building in Ramadi, 60 miles west of Baghdad, in a
predawn attack. Officials said they believed Brazan Ibrahim
al-Tikriti, Saddam's half brother and close adviser, was inside.
To the west, U.S. special operations forces maintained roadblocks
along border crossings to Syria, under orders to prevent regime
members from fleeing Iraq.
In the capital, where four Marines were wounded in a suicide
attack on Thursday, one Marine opened fire on a car that failed to
stop at a checkpoint. AP Broadcast News reporter Ross Simpson said
three adults were killed, including the parents of a 5-year-old girl
who was wounded.
There was no accurate count of the number of troops in the Iraqi
Army's 5th Corps in Mosul, the third largest city with a large Arab
population as well as Kurds and ethnic Turks.
Lawlessness quickly broke out as the army vanished, and U.S.
special forces and hundreds of Kurdish fighters entered a city in
anarchy. "Why are you late?" some residents shouted as the convoy
rolled into town.
Residents plundered the central bank, making off with wads of
Iraqi dinars and throwing bills into the air. The government
printing office was set ablaze, as were several Baath party
Mosul University's library, repository of rare manuscripts, also
was ransacked despite appeals broadcast from mosque minarets
pleading for an end to the anarchy.
"There is absolutely no security. The medical staff is scared for
their safety. The city has fallen into anarchy," said Dr. Darfar
Ibrahim Hasan, a physician at Saddam General Hospital.
Lt. Col. Robert Waltemeyer, commander of special forces in the
area, announced an overnight curfew and said U.S. forces would
tolerate no looting or reprisals. "However, I cannot do this with
just American forces. I need your help," he told local tribal and
Mosul was the second northern city to fall in as many days. U.S.
troops and Kurdish fighters entered Kirkuk, gateway to the northern
oil fields on Thursday.
One day later, thousands of young Iraqi soldiers streamed south,
making their way home after abandoning their military positions.
Some faced a walk of seven days, they said, traveling barefoot over
a highway baked by the sun.
There were moments of anguish for victims of Saddam's regime.
U.S. troops blasted open doors and tunneled through floors beneath
Baghdad's military intelligence headquarters after Iraqis told them
hundreds of political prisoners were trapped in underground cells.
The search yielded nothing.
With lawlessness plaguing Baghdad, some residents blockaded
streets and beat up looters. "We do feel an obligation to assist in
providing security, and coalition forces are doing that," Defense
Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said at the Pentagon.
"Where they see looting, they are stopping it," Rumsfeld said of
the troops, although he also referred to the widespread lawlessness
as a period of "untidiness" on the way to freedom.
Top commanders of the 1st Marine Division held the first of what
is expected to be a series of daily meetings with representatives of
humanitarian organizations and local officials. The session was part
of an effort to restore the city's utilities, services and
infrastructure, damaged by war and the subsequent lawlessness.
"We know they need water. Obviously they need power. They need
police," said Col. Steve Hummer, commanding officer of the Marine
division. "But we are not a police force," he added, a declaration
seconded by Brooks at the U.S. Central Command.
Franks, the four-star general in charge of the military campaign,
spoke pungently on a visit to Afghanistan, where U.S. troops have
been stationed since the military routed the Taliban government last
year. Asked about the fate of Saddam and his sons, he replied,
"They're either dead or they're running like hell. That is the case
with the leadership of the regime inside Iraq."
In one Baghdad landmark, the Al-Rashid Hotel, soldiers swapped
insult for insult. Wielding hammers and chisels, they dug up a tile
mosaic of former President George Bush that had been used for years
as a state-sponsored insult. Installed after the first Gulf War,
during which Bush was commander in chief, it allowed visitors to
walk over his face, a particularly insulting act in the Arab
In place of the mosaic, the troops left a portrait of Saddam.
|Smoke bellows from burning oil
wells above the sky of Baghdad as the sun sets in the Iraqi
capital Friday April 11, 2003. (AP Photo/Lefteris
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