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 In this section
Editors show restraint with war images

Reuters TV forced to pull plug on CNN

Suicide bomb a 'gift to Iraq'

'It wasn't meant to be like this'

Blair told US must give aid role to UN

Intelligence veil lifted in media battle

Weekend review: Cook warns of 'legacy of hatred'

Peter Preston: How many bodybags can we take?

Jonathna Steele: The US wants to privatise Iraq's oil

City dilemma over Saddam's 2m mosque

Air strikes target Republican Guards

15 injured as truck runs into US soldiers at base

Madeleine Bunting: Bombs and biscuits

Baghdad ablaze after raids

Letters: Regime change



UP

1.30pm update

Baghdad hit by new air strikes

US Marines raid 'Chemical Ali' base
British soldiers condemn 'cowboy' US pilot
Three US troops die in helicopter crash


Mark Oliver, Simon Jeffery and agencies
Monday March 31, 2003


Iraqis flee Basra across one of the city's bridges manned by British soldiers
Iraqis flee Basra across one of the city's bridges manned by British soldiers.
Photo: Dan Chung
 


An artillery barrage today opened up on the outskirts of Baghdad as warplanes launched bombing raids on the Iraqi capital.

The latest wave of attacks followed early morning raids targeting a presidential palace used by one of Saddam Hussein's sons, Qusay Hussein, and the Iraqi information ministry

Two direct hits were also registered on the city centre telephone exchange, flattening the six-storey building.

Reuters correspondents in Baghdad said that the sound of the explosions appeared to be coming from the west of the city, towards Saddam International airport.

There were also reports of explosions to the south.

"There's a new air raid on. I've heard six very loud explosions in the city, and the planes are screaming very low overhead," said Samia Nakhoul.

The last 24 hours have seen some of the most intense bombardment since the war began, as US and British aircraft attacked Republican Guard positions protecting the approaches to Baghdad.

There were also reports of heavy bombing in Kirkuk and Mosul.

Meanwhile, at least one US soldier was today killed in fighting against Iraqi forces about 70 miles (110km) south of Baghdad. A US officer said that at least one soldier died in the fighting near the town of Imam Aiyub, south of the city of Hilla.

US forces were firing artillery towards Imam Aiyub, and Iraqi forces were hitting back with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, reports said.

Marines raid 'Chemical Ali' base

US marines today launched a dawn raid on a southern Iraqi town following a tip-off that the Iraqi general known as "Chemical Ali" could be using it as a base to orchestrate guerrilla attacks.

The marines went into Shatra, north of Nassiriya, on a mission to kill senior Iraqi officials believed to be hiding there, including General Ali Hassan al-Majid, according to Reuters.

Gen Majid, who gained his grisly sobriquet after using gas attacks against the Kurds in 1988, has been has been put in charge of the southern front by his cousin, the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein.

Marines stormed the town with bombers, helicopters and tanks. Officers said they had intelligence from anti-Saddam Iraqis that Gen Majid was in Shatra, along with other senior Ba'ath party officials.

Reuters correspondent Sean Maguire said that the US unit he was embedded with had retraced its steps back south down to Shatra, which is around 35km (20 miles) north of the city of Nassiriya, to engage with hostile forces that had been bypassed on their rapid advance.

Iraqi paramilitary forces have been ambushing coalition supply convoys and slowing the advance on Baghdad.

Royal marines pushing closer to Basra

Royal Marine commandos were today pushing closer towards the southern city of Basra, where they plan to target fighters loyal to Saddam.

Around 600 Royal Marines from 40 Commando captured the village of Abu al-Khasib after a full day of fighting yesterday, and are now around a mile from Basra. Today, the marines were expected to push on towards the Shatt al-Arab waterway.
Commandos launch battle for Basra

US troops kill 100 Iraqi paramilitaries

US troops killed around 100 Iraqi paramilitary fighters and captured about 50 prisoners at the Shia holy city of Najaf and Samana in south-central Iraq, according to US Central Command.

The US army's 101st Airborne Division surrounded Najaf yesterday, and was in position to begin rooting out the paramilitary forces, US commander Marvin Hill claimed. Four American soldiers were killed by a suicide bomber in Najaf on Saturday.

However, it was unclear whether the US strategy is to take Najaf or simply to cordon off the city. Certainly there are too many Iraqi fighters in that area to bypass them or leave them unattended and they're a danger to supply lines on the way to Baghdad.

In Nassiriya, meanwhile, where fighting has been fierce for a week, US marines secured buildings held by an Iraqi infantry division. They contained large caches of weapons and chemical decontamination equipment.

US troops also advanced to the town of Hindiya, on the Euphrates river, engaging Iraqi soldiers in firefights. At least 15 Iraqi troops were reported to have been killed.

Wounded British soldiers condemn US 'cowboy' pilot

British soldiers injured when a US aircraft attacked their convoy, killing one of their comrades, hit out angrily at the "cowboy" pilot today.

Troops wounded in Friday's attack accused the A-10 Thunderbolt pilot of "incompetence and negligence", while others privately called for a manslaughter prosecution.
Full story: Audrey Gillan with the Household Cavalry in Iraq

US war strategy under attack

US military leaders are fighting a diplomatic rearguard action to fend off growing criticism of their war strategy.

Faced with stronger than expected opposition from Iraqi soldiers, setbacks including friendly fire and civilian deaths, and growing unrest in the Arab world, the chief architects of the invasion have been forced to defend their plans.

The US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, who has been criticised over his influence on a war plan involving far fewer troops than were used in the 1991 Gulf war, flatly denied reports that he rejected advice from Pentagon planners for substantially more men and armour.

Meanwhile, President Saddam vowed to make a bloody stand and inflict huge losses on invaders in street fighting. An Iraqi military spokesman, hailing Saturday's suicide bomb that killed four US troops, said that 4,000 willing "martyrs" from across the Arab world were already in Baghdad to fight.
Full story: War tactics split is denied by US

US has taken 'ricin factory'

US forces are searching a terrorist compound in north-east Iraq that was probably the site where militants made the poison, ricin, that was found in London in January, the Pentagon's top general claimed yesterday.

General Richard Myers, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the compound belonged to the group Ansar al-Islam, a radical Islamist group which has been linked by the Bush administration to al-Qaida.

"We think that's probably where the ricin that was found in London came from. At least the operatives and maybe some of the formulas came from this site," Gen Myers told CNN. Before the war, US officials said they had evidence that Ansar had tested chemical and biological weapons on livestock, and possibly on people, at the site.

US and British aircraft and missiles pounded the compound for days, and US AC-130 gunships also attacked before coalition and Kurdish ground forces went in, Gen Myers said.

The site has many underground tunnels to search "and it may take us a week to exploit that," he added. Gen Myers said that officials were examining laptop computers and documents also found there.

Ricin is relatively easy to make from castor beans, and is deadly in small quantities. There is no treatment or antidote for the poison, which can take days to kill.

Support for war falls, says poll

Public support for the war in Iraq has fallen for the first time since the conflict began, according to a poll out today. Some 54% of people questioned said that military action was "right", compared to 59% four days ago, the YouGov poll for the Telegraph found.

Most people now believe that the war will take a few months, as opposed to the feeling last week that fighting would be over within a week or two. However, only 26% of the 1,004 adults questioned over the internet yesterday believed that the coalition should withdraw its forces.

Meanwhile, a Time/CNN poll suggests that most Americans believe their government has been too optimistic in its assessment of the war, with 55% saying Washington was overly optimistic in its assessments.

British Marine dies in river ambush

A Royal Marine was killed in action when his boat was ambushed in southern Iraq. Several others were injured in the attack on the Al Faw peninsula, which came as Royal Marines launched their biggest offensive of the war so far, according to the latest reports.
Full story

Three US soldiers die in helicopter crash

A US helicopter has crashed at a forward supply and refuelling point in southern Iraq, killing three marines and injuring a fourth.

A US military spokesman said the Marine UH-1 "Huey" helicopter was not brought down by hostile fire and a Pentagon official in Washington speculated that bad weather might have been to blame.

"Early indications are that, on take-off, the helicopter crashed," the Pentagon official told Reuters. There have been at least two other fatal US and British helicopter crashes since the war began.

Blair seeks to defuse Arab anger

The prime minister, Tony Blair, has written an article for Middle East newspapers arguing that the US and Britain were right to go to war in Iraq.

Charles Kennedy, the Liberal Democrat leader who is an opponent of attacking Iraq, said today that he hoped President Saddam's regime would "recognise reality and give up".


Full story


Special report
Iraq: latest news and analysis

Chronology
31.03.2003: Timeline: day 12 of war

The Informer
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Key documents
20.03.2003: Full text: George Bush's address on the start of war
More key speeches and documents

Interactive guides
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Politics and the war
Aid for Iraq
Iraq - the media war

Voices on Iraq
Read our collection of 30 exclusive interviews

Comment and analysis
Comment and analysis on Iraq

History
Iraq: archive special

News guide
Iraq

Anti-war movement
Special report: the anti-war movement
28.01.2003: Guide to anti-war websites

Useful links
Arab Gateway: Iraq briefing
Middle East Daily
Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq
Global Policy Forum: sanctions against Iraq
UN special commission on Iraq




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