U.S. troops battle Iraqis south of Baghdad
BAGHDAD - U.S. forces battled Iraqi fighters
south of Baghdad and pummeled the capital from the air on
Monday in a marked intensification of the 12-day-old war to
topple President Saddam Hussein.
A thunderous artillery barrage opened up on the
city's southern outskirts as warplanes screamed low over the
Iraqi capital, a Reuters correspondent in the center said.
At least one American soldier was killed in one
of several firefights around towns and river crossings in the
The latest military operations indicated U.S.
commanders were determined to take the fight to Iraqi
militiamen harrying their advance, while hitting regular
troops and Republican Guard units blocking routes to Baghdad.
Bombs and missiles shook the heart of the
capital, knocking local television briefly off the air after
America's top soldier vowed to "draw the noose tighter" around
But General Richard Myers, head of the U.S.
Joint Chiefs of Staff, signaled there would be no early ground
assault on Baghdad. "We'll be patient," he said in Washington.
A cruise missile hit the Information Ministry in
Baghdad in the second night strike on the building in three
days. State television broadcasts began four hours later than
At daybreak, two blasts hit a presidential
palace used by Saddam's son Qusay, who commands the elite
Planes pounded the capital's southern outskirts
in the morning, apparently aiming at Republican Guard
U.S. forces may not try to storm Baghdad until
they have disabled its defenses from the air and secured long
supply lines against attacks by Iraqi fighters in a string of
American units battled Iraqi fighters on the
Euphrates river near the site of ancient Babylon on Monday in
what appeared to be the closest the land war has yet come to
On a front about 70 miles south of Baghdad, U.S.
forces said many Iraqis and at least one American were killed
in a battle near Hilla. A separate fight erupted near a bridge
over the Euphrates at Hindiya, just 50 miles from