U.S. troops thrust to within 10 km (six
miles) of the southern edge of Baghdad on Thursday, and were
preparing to fight for control of the city's airport, U.S. officials
Iraq was reported to be moving elements of four elite
Republican Guard divisions southwards to defend the city, setting up
what could be a final showdown for the Iraqi capital.
military sources said that advance armoured units of the 3rd
Infantry Division had met less resistance than they had counted on
as they raced towards the city's outskirts.
on really fast," said Captain Kevin Jackson of the division's
Engineer Brigade. "There doesn't seem to have been much opposition
At U.S. war headquarters in Qatar, officials said
elements of four elite Iraqi Republican Guard divisions were seen
moving south to defend Baghdad, but had thus far not attempted a
full-scale battle with U.S. forces.
"We are engaging them,
but we don't yet have any direct confrontation with the Republican
Guard divisions as a whole," Captain Frank Thorp told reporters.
He also said troops were closing in on Saddam International
Airport, which is about 20 km (12 miles) southwest of the centre of
the sprawling city of five million people.
at this point are outside of the Baghdad airport and are positioning
themselves to engage that fight at a time of our choice," Thorp
The city and its outskirts were heavily bombed
U.S. officials say troops cross 'red line'
U.S. military officials said that the troops
had crossed the "red line" around the city, which could trigger a
chemical attack by the Iraqis.
"There may be a trigger line
where the regime deems [a] sufficient threat to use weapons of mass
destruction," said U.S. Brigadier General Vincent Brooks at a
briefing in Qatar on Wednesday. "It's a conceptual line across which
there may be a decision made by regime leaders."
fearsome air power, U.S. armored forces moved on the Iraqi capital
from two directions. U.S. forces also seized a dam over the
Euphrates River northwest of Baghdad.
"What we're seeing is
a multi-pronged approach. The noose is quickly tightening around the
neck of this regime," said U.S. Lieutenant Mark Kitchens, a
spokesman at U.S. Central Command in Qatar.
helicopter shot down in Iraq; 7 killed
A U.S. Army Black
Hawk helicopter was shot down in southern Iraq on Wednesday, killing
seven of the 11 soldiers aboard, Pentagon officials said.
The helicopter was downed by small-arms fire near Karbala,
the site of fierce fighting between the Army's 3rd Infantry Division
and Iraqi troops, including Republican Guard forces.
other four soldiers on board the Black Hawk were wounded and
rescued, officials said.
U.S. confirms single-seat Hornet
plane down in Iraq
The U.S. military confirmed on Thursday
that an F/A-18 Hornet single-seat aircraft went down in Iraq
"While the coalition does not discuss the details
of ongoing recovery operations, we are committed to accounting for
all coalition personnel," it said in a statement.
Central Command forward headquarters in the Gulf state of Qatar
said, in its release headed "Hornet single-seat aircraft down in
Iraq," that an investigation was continuing and the pilot's name
would not yet be released.
It said the plane came down
shortly before midnight Iraq time on Wednesday.
television networks said the fighter-bomber, based on an aircraft
carrier, had been shot down over southern Iraq by a surface-to-air