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[casi] News, 26/03-02/04/03 (2)

News, 26/03-02/04/03 (2)


*  U.S. Blasts Iraqi Armor Near Karbala
*  General: A Longer War Likely
*  US sending more troops into Iraq
*  Truck hits US soldiers in Kuwait
*  US timed launch of war to save Iraqi oil wells: Franks
*  US accused of using cluster bombs
*  Israelis trained US troops in Jenin-style urban warfare
*  US Marines enter Shatrah in search of fallen comrade
*  US says 100 Iraqis killed in holy city clash
*  Start to Iraq war impressive, but US overstretched: McCaffrey
*  The death toll
*  Clouding the overall picture in Iraq


*  US peace activists expelled from Iraq angry over "senseless" war
*  My journey across a desert of destruction
*  British soldiers sent home from Iraq for refusing to fight: lawyer


by Chris Tomlinson
Las Vegas Sun, 27th March

NEAR KARBALA, Iraq (AP): The ferocious sandstorm that halted the U.S. drive
on Baghdad lifted Thursday and coalition warplanes were back in the sky in
force, blasting Iraqi armor that probed American lines.

Troops awoke to bright sunshine after a night when temperatures dipped into
the 30s and resumed their drive toward the Iraqi capital. The weather front
had that created one of the biggest sandstorms in recent memory blew east
into Iran.

The bad weather, with near zero visibility, had stalled the coalition drive
50 miles south of the Iraqi capital.

Small groups of Iraqi armored personnel carriers - ranging from three to six
vehicles - tested U.S. defenses near Karbala. When the Iraqis closed within
10 miles, they were blasted by coalition warplanes that again ranged the

The soldiers cheered as they watched the planes destroy two APCs on the
horizon to the north. Similar explosions from bombing runs farther north
could be heard but not seen.

A squad of tanks was sent to check results of the strike and found a damaged
pipeline spilling an estimated 1,000 gallons of fuel each second. Army
engineers worked to stanch the flow.

In Nasiriyah, Marines were reported to have fought house-to-house battles. A
reporter for WTVD in Durham, N.C., attached to the Camp Lejeune Marines,
said at least 25 Marines had been injured. He said Marines were using flares
to light areas so they could see their enemy.

Associated Press Correspondent Denis Gray reported the first American
aircraft, a C-130 cargo plane, landed Thursday at Iraq's second largest
airport, Tallil airbase, just outside Nasariyah. Tallil is expected to be a
major resupply base for American forces.

Tallil is the second largest airport in Iraq after Saddam International
Airport at Baghdad. It was covered by the U.S.-British enforced no-fly zones
and has not been used since the 1991 Gulf War. The no-fly zones were set up
to protect Iraq's majority Shiite Muslims in the south of the country and
the Kurds in the north.

Several American units already are operating at Tallil, where troops put up
a sign saying "Bush International Airport."


by Rick Atkinson
Washington Post, 28th March

FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHELL, Iraq, March 27 -- The Army's senior ground
commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace, said today that overextended
supply lines and a combative adversary using unconventional tactics have
stalled the U.S. drive toward Baghdad and increased the likelihood of a
longer war than many strategists had anticipated.

"The enemy we're fighting is different from the one we'd war-gamed against,"
Wallace, commander of V Corps, said during a visit to the 101st Airborne
Division headquarters here in central Iraq.

The corps commander said the duration of the current pause will depend on
advice from his logistics specialists. Another senior commander suggested
that a 35-day strategic bombing campaign, similar to that waged before the
ground attack in the Persian Gulf War of 1991, would not be preposterous.

Army sources said there was also concern about the wide gap between Army
forces driving up the western edge of the Euphrates River valley and Marines
on the other side of the river, along a road leading to Kut. Additional Army
units are en route to Iraq, including the 4th Infantry Division and the 3rd
Armored Cavalry Regiment, but it will be weeks before any substantial combat
power is added to the fight.

Wallace described an opponent willing to make suicide attacks against
superior U.S. forces while also using threats against fellow Iraqis to
generate opposition to the U.S. and British invaders. "I'm appalled by the
inhumanity of it all," he said, noting that intelligence reports indicate
those loyal to President Saddam Hussein are giving out weapons and forcing
others to fight, sometimes by threatening their families.

"The attacks we're seeing are bizarre -- technical vehicles [pickups] with
.50 calibers and every kind of weapon charging tanks and Bradleys," Wallace
added, referring to the M1 Abrams tanks and M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles
used by the Army. "It's disturbing to think that someone can be that

Wallace, a plain-spoken cavalryman whose command is based in Germany and is
operating a few miles north of here, gave public voice to what senior
officers in Iraq have been saying privately for several days. Asked whether
combat developments in the past week increased the likelihood of a much
longer war than some planners had forecast, Wallace said, "It's beginning to
look that way."

For now, the two divisions that form the heart of V Corps -- the 3rd
Infantry and 101st Airborne -- have paused indefinitely to allow thinly
stretched logistics troops to amass a roughly 10-day stockpile of water,
ammunition, food, fuel and other supplies. Sustained combat over the past
week has depleted the 3rd Infantry's stocks of water, fuel and ammunition,
and CH-47 Chinook helicopters today ferried in additional stacks of
artillery shells from Kuwait, according to Army sources.

To protect a 250-mile supply line from Kuwait from Iraqi guerrillas, Wallace
has been forced to divert some of his combat force, including a brigade from
the 101st and the small brigade from the 82nd Airborne Division now in
Kuwait. The pause will not affect the firing of long range artillery, Air
Force and Navy bombing sorties and attacks by AH-64 Apache helicopters,
which will continue whittling away Republican Guard forces and other Iraqi
targets, he said.

"We knew we'd have to pause at some point to build our logistics power,"
Wallace said. "This is about where we'd expected."

What was unexpected, however, was the zeal of Iraqi paramilitary fighters.

U.S. military planners had anticipated fighting three Iraqi military forces:
the regular army, considered a mediocre force of poorly motivated
conscripts; a half-dozen Republican Guard units with tanks and
better-trained troops; and the Special Republican Guard, 12,000 to 16,000
troops drawn mostly from the Tikriti or Dulaimi tribes who are Sunni Muslims
considered deeply loyal to Hussein.

The paramilitary forces, while recognized by planners, have demonstrated a
willingness and ability to fight that has caught the Americans off-balance.
"The theory was that they might not welcome us but that they wouldn't resist
us," a senior officer said today. He later added, "I hope this is what's
being cast in some quarters as the dying gasp of a regime on the ropes. But
I'm not so sure."

Iraq is believed to have nine to 12 battalions of a militia called Saddam's
Fedayeen, with roughly 600 men apiece, an Army intelligence officer said.
One battalion, supplemented by other Iraqi security forces including Special
Republican Guard troops, has been fighting the 3rd Infantry Division around
the besieged city of Najaf, 100 miles south of Baghdad, the officer said.

A senior Army officer said the number of Iraqi combatants at Najaf,
including those allegedly forced to take up arms, is estimated at 3,000 to
6,000. He added that Army strategists have concluded that "if you can't get
Najaf to fall, you probably aren't going to go much farther."

The city, considered an important center of Shiite Muslim culture, also acts
as a gateway to Karbala and the western approaches to Baghdad. Third
Infantry troops, whose lead elements are near Karbala, 50 miles south of
Baghdad, have loosely encircled Najaf. But "it would cost a lot of troops to
cordon that off" securely enough to bypass the city without worrying about
attacks from the rear, the senior Army officer said.

"Everybody's frame of reference is changing," Col. Ben Hodges, commander of
the 1st Brigade of the 101st, said shortly after arriving here Wednesday
night. "The enemy always gets a vote. You fight the enemy and not the plan.
I personally underestimated the willingness of the Fedayeen to fight, or
maybe overestimated the willingness of the Shiites to rise up."

U.S. aircraft struck several key targets in Najaf today, including a
training base, an air defense headquarters and a checkpoint that was using a
taxi fleet for military traffic, Army sources said. It remained unclear how
much street fighting will be necessary in Najaf and other cities, a prospect
most commanders want to avoid.

"If you're really serious about that, you have to do it the Israeli way,
with tanks and bulldozers," a senior Army officer said.

U.S. commanders also were unpleasantly surprised by the well-orchestrated
barrage of fire that greeted an attack against the Republican Guard's Medina
Division Sunday night by V Corps' 11th Attack Helicopter Regiment. One
Apache crashed on takeoff. Another was shot down and the other 33 took such
combat damage that only seven were considered battle worthy upon returning
to their base near here, Army sources said. Eleven others were scheduled to
have repairs finished today.

Enemy gunners on rooftops and balconies had apparently been alerted to the
approaching helicopters by dozens of cell phone calls made by a network of
observers, the sources said.

"We're dealing with a country in which everybody has a weapon, and when they
fire them all in the air at the same time, it's tough," Wallace said.

Iraqi forces have hardly been immune to attack, despite the pause. In
addition to the hundreds reportedly killed by the 3rd Infantry Division
earlier this week, a half-dozen Iraqi tanks being transported on heavy
trucks were ambushed by U.S. planes today, and four long-range, 130mm
artillery pieces were destroyed by some of the 30 or so rocket-propelled
Army Tactical Missile System artillery rounds that have been fired each
night, according to Army sources.

Officers here welcomed news that the 173rd Airborne Brigade had parachuted
into Kurdish held northern Iraq. But expectations of that unit's impact on
the campaign are minimal, given that it contains light infantry troops with
little mobility. Plans to reinforce the unit with armor are considered
problematic because a C-17 transport plane can carry only a single Abrams
tank per sortie, and the force would require substantial logistical support
by air.

Most of the 101st is now in central Iraq, although the division has yet to
engage in serious combat. Dreadful weather shut down most of the division's
260 helicopters for three days before clearing this morning. "I feel," one
general said, "as though the corps has been punching with one arm."

Sydney Morning Herald, from AFP, 28th March

US commanders have poured 90,000 ground troops into Iraq since the start of
an invasion seven days ago and has another 120,000 troops in line to go to
the region, a Pentagon official said Thursday.

Among the units with orders to deploy to the region are the 1st Armored
Division in Germany, the 1st Cavalry Division in Texas, and the 2nd and 3rd
Armored Cavalry Regiments in Louisiana and Colorado, the official said.

Troops from the 4th Infantry Division began departing Thursday to the region
from their base at Fort Hood, Texas.

"If you would flow everyone it would be about 100,000 to 120,000 folks still
in the pipeline," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The deployment orders had been previously announced, but Pentagon officials
highlighted the quickening flow of forces amid mounting criticism from
former military commanders that a larger force was needed to go against

US forces moving through southern Iraq have encountered much stiffer
resistance than expected from lightly armed Iraqi irregulars who have
attacked supply convoys and even armored columns.

But the official said 15,000 additional troops have moved into Iraq over the
past day and a half, boosting the number in country to 90,000.

They included as many as 1,000 troops from the 173rd Airborne Brigade who
parachuted into northern Iraq on Wednesday, establishing a base from which
to bring in more troops and equipment to hold the Kurdish controlled regions
and secure the northern oilfields.

The official would not give the size of the US force now in the north.

BBC, 30th March

A truck has rammed into a group of United States soldiers at a camp in
northern Kuwait but none have been killed, according to US central command.

A spokesman said 15 soldiers have been injured but could not confirm whether
it was a deliberate attack, nor could he comment on the nationality of the
truck driver.

The white pick-up truck had driven into a line of personnel lining up
outside a military shop known as the "PX" at the Udairi Camp.

Eyewitnesses said shooting then broke out, and an ambulance was called in.
Egyptian immigrants who were working at the base were reportedly taken
outside and forced to the ground before being questioned.

The commander of the US-led forces in Iraq, General Tommy Franks, told a
news conference in Qatar that an investigation was being carried out into
the incident.

Udairi Camp is a springboard for operations in Iraq.

According to the BBC correspondent Allan Little in Kuwait security is tight
at the base making it virtually impossible for an unauthorised driver to



AS-SALIYAH, Qatar, March 30 (AFP) - The head of US forces in the Gulf,
General Tommy Franks, said here Sunday he chose to launch the war on Iraq
when he did in order to avert the feared destruction of Iraqi oil fields by
troops loyal to Saddam Hussein.

Amid reports that he had wanted to delay the campaign but was overruled by
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Franks insisted that the decision to go
to war in the early hours of March 20 -- Baghdad time -- had been his and
his alone.

"That decision was made by me, not influenced by anyone else," Franks told a
press briefing here at his computerized command headquarters.

"We saw an opportunity to achieve one of our operational objectives, which
was to prevent the destruction of a big chunk of the Iraqi people's wealth."

He added that US planners also determined that while Iraqi forces were
intending to neutralize the oil wells, they were unable to execute the

"So we sensed that we had an opportunity to get those oil wells."

Franks pointed to the subsequent seizure of the southern oil fields by US
and British forces in the early days of the conflict as being among the
principal accomplishments of the campaign thus far.

US commanders have said only a handful of the estimated 500 wells in the
sourth had been set alight by Iraqi troops and that efforts are now under
way to bring them under control.,3604,925141,00.html

by Richard Norton-Taylor and Dan Plesch
The Guardian, 29th March

US forces have fired cluster bombs in attacks near the towns of Najaf and
Kabala, according to reports yesterday.

US central command said the American army was using surface-to-surface
missiles, in an apparent reference to multiple launch rocket systems which
Britain's armoured brigade near Basra also has in its inventory.

These systems, and the US army's longer-range tactical missile system, fire
cluster bombs which are spread over a wide area.

Campaigners say they should be banned because some of the "bomblets" fail to
explode and present a big danger to civilians similar to that posed by

Several reliable analysts shared the view that the bombs were being used by
the American army but there was no independent confirmation that they had
caused civilian casualties, said Richard Lloyd, director of Landmine Action,
the UK arm of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

"Unexploded ordnance are a forgotten but lethal legacy of every war," he

Iraq's information minister, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, said yesterday that US
forces had fired the bombs at Najaf, killing 26 civilians and wounding 60.

General Sir Mike Jackson, head of the army, declined to comment on whether
British forces were using them.

The Ministry of Defence has admitted that British forces have depleted
uranium weapons but it refused on national security grounds to say whether
they are armed with cluster bombs.

Challenger 2 tanks of the 7th armoured brigade around Basra are armed with
depleted uranium shells. The defence secretary, Geoff Hoon, has suggested
there is no evidence that they are dangerous.

Veterans of the first Gulf war and a body of medical opinion say that
radioactive dust from the shells can be deadly.

by Justin Huggler
The Independent, 29th March

The American military has been asking the Israeli army for advice on
fighting inside cities, and studying fighting in the West Bank city of Jenin
last April, unnamed United States and Israeli sources have confirmed.
Reports that US troops trained with Israeli forces for street to-street
fighting have been denied. If the US army believes the road to Baghdad lies
through Jenin, there is reason for Iraqi civilians to be concerned. During
fighting in the Jenin refugee camp last April, more than half the
Palestinian dead were civilians. There was compelling evidence that Israeli
soldiers targeted civilians, including Fadwa Jamma, a Palestinian nurse shot
dead as she tried to treat a wounded man. A 14-year-old boy was killed by
Israeli tank-fire in a crowded street after the curfew was lifted. A
Palestinian in a wheelchair was shot dead, and his body was crushed by an
Israeli tank.

Israeli soldiers prevented ambulances from reaching the wounded and refused
the Red Cross access. Using bulldozers, the Israeli army demolished an
entire neighbourhood  home to 800 Palestinian families  reducing it to
dust and rubble.

Martin van Creveld, a professor of military history and strategy at
Jerusalem's internationally respected Hebrew University, has told reporters
that, following his advice to US Marines, the American military bought nine
of the converted bulldozers used in the Jenin demolitions from Israel.

Professor van Creveld said he gave advice to marines last year in Camp
Lejeune, North Carolina. He said he was questioned about Israeli tactics in
Jenin, and told them the giant D9 bulldozers, manufactured for civilian use
in the US but fitted with armour-plating in Israel, were among the most
useful weapons.

Israeli troops at first found they could not get their tanks and armoured
vehicles into the narrow alleys of the refugee camp, so they bulldozed wide
swaths through houses to get them in.

If the US military intends to use converted D9 bulldozers in Iraqi cities,
there is cause for concern. When reporters got into the Jenin refugee camp,
we found the fronts of houses neatly scythed off so the insides of the
houses were visible from the street, with personal belongings, sofas, beds,
children's toys, hanging precariously from half-collapsed floors.

Israeli use of the bulldozers has not been limited to clearing the way for
tanks. They have also been used in collective punishment, such as the
destruction of an entire neighbourhood in Jenin after the fighting ended.

In Nablus last April, eight members of the al-Shubi family were killed when
an Israeli soldier bulldozed their home, burying them alive, despite shouted
warnings from neighbours that they were still inside. The Israeli military
has supplied US forces with video of incursions by Israeli soldiers into
Palestinian cities, said unnamed "security sources". They added that Israeli
officers have given their American counterparts extensive briefings on
Israeli tactics.

One of the tactics identified was the Israeli army's practice of moving from
house to house by knocking holes in connecting walls to avoid being exposed
in the streets, a practice that has wrecked the homes of thousands of

The Israeli army has also routinely used Palestinian civilians as human
shields to protect them as they advance, a practice that has continued
despite Israeli court rulings forbidding it. There was no word on whether
Israeli officers had briefed American troops on this tactic.

There were reports in the US and Israel media last November that American
troops had been trained by Israeli instructors in a mock-up of a Palestinian
city inside an army base in Israel. Those reports have been denied, but an
unnamed Israeli source told the Associated Press that US officers did visit
the mocked-up Palestinian city and attended a briefing on Israeli training

There have also been reports that Palestinians who have fought against
Israeli forces in Jenin and other Palestinian cities during Israeli
offensives last year have telephoned friends and acquaintances in Iraq to
advise them on tactics to use against American and British forces if
street-to-street fighting begins.

There is another lesson to drawn from Jenin. The Palestinians who defended
the city were armed only with assault rifles and crude, home-made
booby-traps and pipe-bombs, against the massively better-equipped Israeli

But they held out for 11 days, and managed to kill 23 Israeli soldiers, 13
of them in a single ambush. When the Palestinians ran out of ammunition,
they kept fighting and started throwing stones at the Israeli soldiers. If
the much better-equipped Iraqi forces take the same attitude to defending
Baghdad and other cities the battles could be bloody.


SOUTHERN IRAQ, March 31 (AFP) - US Marines moved into the southern Iraqi
town of Shatrah on Monday to recover the body of a dead comrade which had
been hanged in the town square, officers said.

Hundreds of troops were dispatched on the operation after intelligence
reports indicated the body of a dead American, who was killed in a firefight
last week, had been paraded through the streets and hanged in public.

"We would like to retrieve the body of the marine but it is not our sole
purpose," said Lieutenant-Colonel Pete Owen, of the First Marine
Expeditionary Force.

Military sources said another part of the operation was to arm local
militias to fight against members of the ruling Baath party loyal to Iraqi
President Saddam Hussein.

Shatrah is some 40 kilometres (24.8 miles) north of Nasiriyah, where Iraqi
forces have been harassing US supply lines and putting up tough resistance
for more than a week.

Sydney Morning Herald, from AP, 31st March

The US Army encircled the Shi'ite holy city of Najaf and said it killed
about 100 paramilitary fighters and captured about 50 Iraqis.

The "terror squad members" were killed yesterday at Najaf and another town
in fighting with the 82nd Airborne Division, the Central Command said in a
statement today.

It did not further identify the "terror squads" or give other details about
the newly captured Iraqis.

The 101st Airborne Division surrounded Najaf, preparing for a possible
door-to-door battle to root out Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's fighters - but
wary of damaging some of the faith's most sacred shrines.

Further north, Army brigades crept closer to Baghdad, though battles with
the Republican Guard loomed.

To the south, Marines launched "search-and-destroy" missions to clear the
road to Baghdad of Iraqi attackers.

But it was at Najaf - a city of 300,000, 160km south of Baghdad - that US
military leaders were faced with a difficult decision.

It was unclear whether the US strategy is to take Najaf or simply to cordon
off the city. There are too many Iraqi fighters to bypass them or leave them
unattended; they're a danger to supply lines on the way to Baghdad.

But if Najaf is a key stepping stone to the capital, it is also a dangerous

On Saturday, a suicide attack killed four US soldiers at a checkpoint north
of town; yesterday, nervous US troops warned approaching drivers they would
be shot if they did not leave the area.

It is also a place where soldiers must tread with sensitivity.

A battle that destroyed its holy places could inflame passions of Shi'ites
in Iraq and elsewhere, most notably Iran.

The Army still held out hope that the battle could be avoided. Using
loudspeakers mounted on Humvees, US soldiers on Najaf's perimeter will soon
beseech its townspeople to turn over Saddam's zealots.

To the north, brigades of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division advanced 16km to
near Karbala, just 80km from Baghdad - also a Shi'ite holy city. One
battalion was slowed by the need to shepherd dozens of surrendering Iraqi

Republican Guard positions between Karbala and Baghdad continued to be
targeted for allied bombardment.

General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said more than
half of yesterday's sorties were directed at the guard, Saddam's best
equipped and trained forces.

At Tallil, the former Iraqi airbase near the southern city of Nasiriyah that
has been taken over by the US forces, A-10 Warthogs departed for missions
throughout the day.

Tallil grows in importance and size with every day; it is nearer to targets
than take-off points in the Persian Gulf, Kuwait or elsewhere.

North of Baghdad, meanwhile, US-backed Kurdish troops took control of
territory left by Iraqi forces withdrawing toward the oil centre of Kirkuk.

That territory came without a shot - unlike the continuing battles with
Saddam's fighters in the south.

A British soldier was killed in action near Basra, and there was fierce
fighting for the town of Abu al Khasib, south-west of Basra.

Britain's Press Association said 30 Iraqis had been killed and hundreds
captured in what the British are calling Operation James, named after James

Near the southern port city of Umm Qasr, British forces discovered a cache
of arms and explosives in a school, an Australian defence spokesman said

Australian mine clearance experts were called in to dismantle the weaponry,
military spokesman Brigadier Mike Hannan said.


WASHINGTON, April 1 (AFP) - Offsetting criticism of Pentagon decisions in
the first 12 days of the Iraq war, 1991 Gulf War veteran General Barry
MCaffrey, writing in the Wall Street Journal Tuesday, said the Iraq war
needs to be fought "hard" to win.

And, warning that the United States is "overextended and at risk" due to US
troop deployment around the world, ex-US drug czar McCaffrey says the time
has come to acknowledge the situation's gravity and call up reservists and
National guard divisions.

"While early criticisms of the Pentagon have been overheated, the American
public needs to start looking at Iraq as a war -- like all wars -- that we
must fight hard to win," he wrote, after highlighting early dramatic US
successes in the war.

In an op-ed piece titled, "A Time to Fight," McCaffrey, who led the 24th
Mechanized Infantry Division in the 1991 Gulf War, is critical of US Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's "rolling start" concept to the attack's launch,
saying it "has put us in a temporarily risky position."

Due to the fact that US forces should really be fighting with three armored
divisions and an armored cavalry regiment to give rear area security, "a war
of maneuver" will now have to be faced in the coming days.

McCaffrey notes the United States would be seeking to destroy five Iraqi
armor divisions with just one US armored unit -- the Third Mechanized
Infantry supported by "modest armor forces of the First Marine Division and
the Apache attack helicopters of the 101st Airborne."

But, he predicts: "We will succeed in this battle because of the bravery and
skill of our soldiers and Marines combined with the ferocious lethality of
the air power we will bring to bear on the enemy force."

And he said that the 100,000 troops en route to battle "will give the
operational commanders the ability to control the pace and tempo of the
fight if we sense trouble."

The ensuing destruction of Iraq's 5,500 vehicle strong mobile force will
shift the battle's "center of gravity" to the urban area of Baghdad.

The toughest problem as US-led forces face the "determined opposition" of
the Republican Guard, will be "the eradication of the thousands of so-called
Fedayeen and the al Kut Army."

"The war will not be over until the regime is dead or behind barbed wire. To
achieve our purpose we must destroy the SRG and thousands of terrorist

"If we shrink from using direct and overwhelming violence on the SRG and the
Fedayeen, we will risk thousands of casualties in our Army and Marine
assault forces and leave in place an unintimidated, even emboldened,
terrorist threat that will make our subsequent occupation of the city an
unending horror."

With US forces likely to be tied up in Iraq "for the next 12 months at
least" and others deployed elsewhere, "It is time to call up at least three
US Army National Guard Divisions for 36 months service along with
significant Marine, Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force reserve elements," he

"Calling up these reserve forces will be political and economic recognition
of the gravity of the situation we face. We must win this second crucial
battle of the war on terrorism that was forced on us by the tragedy of
September 11," McCaffrey.

The Independent, 3rd April


Killed in combat: 39
Accidental and other deaths: 14
Missing: 11
Captured: 6

Killed in combat: 5
Accidental and other deaths: 22
Missing: 0

Killed in combat: more than 1,000
Missing: accurate figures not available


Killed: 57 Kurds, mostly from the Komala Islamic group


Killed: 1

Killed: at least 677, according to estimates by the Iraqi government

Killed: 9 (a French television journalist; an Australian cameraman, Paul
Moran, left; a Jordanian taxi driver in Baghdad; an Iranian cameraman
working for the BBC; five Syrian passengers in a bus on the Iraqi border)
Missing: 3 (a correspondent for an Arab television channel; and two ITN crew
- a French cameraman and a Lebanese translator)

The Scotsman, 2nd April

AS THE second week of war in Iraq ends, the nature of the campaign on the
ground has become clearer and the inevitable allied victory now seems more
secure. Unfortunately, the rolling, 24-hour news services in the West have
had a tendency to focus on the minutiae of the conflict, thus clouding the
overall picture. But the strategic situation, if not the propaganda war, has
definitely gone in the allies' favour.

Yesterday, allied forces were reported to have destroyed much of the Baghdad
division of Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard, the Baath Party equivalent of
Hitler's Waffen SS divisions in the Second World War. All along, the
coalition strategy has been to move quickly to Baghdad in order to isolate
the regime in the Iraqi capital. With Saddam trapped and his Republican
Guard main force wiped out or depleted, the tensions in the tottering regime
will increase exponentially. There are signs this is beginning to happen.
Also, casualties so far have been minimal: allied dead, while desperately
regrettable, number fewer than 100.

The resistance of the Baath Party militia, while an irritant, has had no
lasting strategic influence on the campaign. Indeed, this militia represents
not much more than lightly armed small units with little or no strength in
depth. So much so, it has been possible to start liberating from the militia
some allied prisoners and kidnapped aid workers in the last 48 hours. And in
the last few days, as civilians in the south of Iraq have started to
appreciate that the Baath Party is gone for good, relations between them and
the liberating British and US troops have markedly improved.

Despite all this, there has been a strange tendency in the past week for
commentators and critics to underrate the sheer power of the allied military
machine. True, it has been hampered by the decision of Turkey to block
access from the north. That was probably the biggest strategic blow to the
chances of a quick victory. But the threat of allied air power has stopped
the Republican Guard from exploiting this temporary weakness in the Kurdish
north, while the first units of the US troops re-routed from Turkey are now
in Kuwait and preparing to move up to Baghdad. The final overthrow of Saddam
Hussein is not in doubt.

It had been presumed that Saddam wished to emulate Hitler and die amid the
ruins of Baghdad. Now there are rumours he is not even in the city. If that
is the case, what are the senior members of the regime left doing his dirty
work to make of their perilous position? In recent days, Iraqi spokesmen
have not appeared half as assured as they did one week ago.

There is a world of a difference between the bravado of Iraqi officials when
US tanks are 100 miles away and what they will say when the noose tightens
around Baghdad and the unmanned US drones with Hellfire missiles stalk
members of the Baath Party gestapo if they ever set foot out of doors. When
the tanks of the Republican Guard divisions have been pounded to metal
filings, then we will see if the ranks of Saddam Hussein's sycophants remain
quite so truculent or so seemingly united in suicide.

No-one relishes this conflict. The terrible cases of friendly fire or
accidental civilian death are cruel and must not be forgotten. Yet, the war
so far has progressed swiftly and with limited cost all round. It is a good



AMMAN, March 30 (AFP) - American grandmother Peggy Gish spent five months in
Baghdad in solidarity with the Iraqis, but was expelled by the authorities
and sent to Jordan on her way home, her heart full of grief for the
"senseless" US-led war on Iraq.

Gish is among six US nationals, two Japanese, a Korean and an Irishman, who
were ordered out of Baghdad Saturday by the Iraqi regime for venturing on
the streets without authorisation after heavy bombardments of the capital.

"I hold no grudge at being expelled. Their fear is understandable. Under the
circumstances of war, Iraqis in the United States would also be under
surveillance and not to be trusted," said Gish, a farmer from Ohio.

"Actually it is important for me to go home now to speak of all the
sufferings I have seen in Iraq and to set the record straight because what
we get through our media is pure propaganda," she said.

Twenty-three other Christian peace activists, mostly from the United States,
remain in Iraq to show their solidarity with its people, she said.

"The United States is not waging a war to liberate Iraq. This is an absolute
lie. No liberation is going on when we destroy their families and culture
and terrorise their children," she said.

For Gish, and fellow peace activist Kara Speltz from Oakland, California,
this is a "senseless, horrible" war that will only serve to fuel Arab hatred
from the United States.

On Friday, Gish and members of her group were woken by a very loud explosion
near Al Dar hotel in central Baghdad which shook the building, and found
that a nearby communications center, another hotel and a restaurant were

When they tried to tour the scene without a government-imposed "minder" they
were picked up by the police and taken to a nearby station, where their
camera and video equipment were seized.

"The police were very uptight but we never felt threatened and even as they
questioned us they were very respectful and we spoke as human beings," she

Before leaving Baghdad early Saturday the authorities returned the equipment
they had confiscated but kept the films, she said.

"The Iraqi people are loving, hospitable and very gracious and I was very
touched by their willingness to see the difference between us as individuals
as opposed to what our government is doing to their country," Gish said.

Speltz, also a Christian, works in Californa with a peace group inspired by
the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, broke into tears as
she told AFP about her experience in and out of Iraq.

"We went to a house that appeared to have been hit by an anti-personnel bomb
like those used in Vietnam that have little pellets shooting up, not to kill
people but to maim them. One man had pellets all over him," she said.

"It was horrendous to see what what struck me the most was not a single
Iraqi was anything but welcoming and loving. This would not be true in the
United States," Speltz said.

"The war is not between the Iraqi people and the American people, it is
between two dictators," she said, referring to Iraqi President Saddam
Hussein and his US counterpart George W. Bush.

On their way back to Jordan one of the cars in the convoy crashed after
bursting a tyre while still on Iraqi territory and several people were
injured, including a US national now hospitalised in Amman, Speltz said.

"The Iraqi people picked up our injured people and took them to Rutba
(inside Iraq), where the hospital has been devastated by American bombs, but
the Iraqis welcomed and treated our people," she said.

by Phil Sands
The Independent, 30th March

Sunday 23 March

It was broad daylight, about 3pm, and you could hear the engines of B-52
bombers over the city.

I bought some vegetables and carried on walking down the main road leading
out of Karrada, a heavily bombed district of Baghdad.

The air raid siren went as I passed the barber shop, run by a Palestinian
man who always tries to give me a haircut but ends up giving me tea instead.
Everyone ignored the siren, and I did too, sitting in the street of this war
zone, drinking an Iranian bottle of Pepsi and eating a sandwich.

With bombs still landing to the south of the city, I carried my vegetables
past a sandbagged police outpost, busy with soldiers. They waved and smiled,
and told me "welcome habebee". They said it again, "welcome dearest", when I
told them I was from England.

Monday 24 March

The days are dark now, heavy from the oil-screen fires. No one much talks
about the bombings any more.

With the earth shaking with explosives, we walked along the street, past the
gun emplacements and the friendly Iraqi soldiers, who may fight and die
outside our home in the ditches they are digging.

I sat up into the early hours with an Iraqi who explained something none of
us knew. Close to the Doura oil refinery, and 200m from our house, is an
arms factory.

The B-52s sound as if they are everywhere, always. Our "pro-Saddam" minders
watch the news and cheer the perpetual victory of their forces over the

Tuesday 25 March

The first attack started at about 2am. For the rest of the night, and all
Tuesday, I lay feverish in bed, too sick to move. I drifted in and out of
sleep, to the sound of bombs, the most intensive attack yet.

Outside the sky was yellow, then dark. Filthy black rain fell from the
filthy black sky. It was a foul 24 hours for me. The only light spot was
when Alul, a Turkish shield, brought me warm milk, an impossible commodity
in Iraq.

Wednesday 26 March

We watched as one of our minders used our emergency drinking water to wash
his bus. Faith, a quiet, dignified shield from America, was mute with

Then I was told to report to the Palestine Hotel in central Baghdad.
Al-Hashimi himself had ordered I meet him.

Jurgen, an excellent shield from Germany, and another shield  a Catalonian
revolutionary with a flak jacket and 24-hour whisky habit  were also

Al-Hashimi runs the Organisation of Friendship, Peace and Solidarity, the
Iraqi group responsible for bringing in the human shields and deploying them
to possible bomb targets.

He's an important man, powerful enough for the sensible to fear and loathe.
I try to avoid him, but one of our minders from the Ministry of Tourism made
it clear I must go this time. He escorted us to Al-Hashimi's lair, on the
17th floor of the Palestine.

We left five minutes later having been expelled from the country as a
"security risk".

The Catalonian volunteered to stay and fight the Americans with Saddam's
army, an offer that was politely refused. Al-Hashimi thanked us for our
"noble and courageous" presence and then threw us out. It was 1pm and he
wanted us out at 2pm.

The Iraqis couldn't organise transport out, so we had a day's reprieve. I
said goodbyes, tearless but hurtful. Friends I have lived through war with,
friends who may yet not live through the war.

Thursday 27 March

No electricity; 4am and I hear a helicopter, far away on the wind. It
stopped me sleeping, makes me scared. I stood on the roof and listened;
utter black apart from the glow of fire from the refinery. One of the
minders appeared, very unhappy at me being alone. He told me to go

I ate my last breakfast with the friends I must leave; some new shields, one
a Muslim man in a mottled-green combat jacket. He didn't say much and
neither did I. I no longer gave a damn about fighters coming in as human
shields  ruining the whole peaceful idea and risking everyone's safety 
because it was so typical of how things get messed up and crazy.

There will be four shields left at the refinery, just four. Before the
bombing, there had been about 30. Lots of life and arguments.

Cihan, 25-year-old Kurdish musician, and Alul, 21-year-old Turkish student
and a fine singer, are both funny and kind. There is Osama, an Iraqi
Australian, caught in a permanent state of wide-eyed fear because his family
live close to the refinery. And there is Faith. She's given up everything to
be in Iraq and may never be allowed home. Cihan calls her "our mother". She
cried as we said goodbye. I think I'll never see her again.

There was bright sunshine as we drove off. No one knows if the road to Syria
is open, if Syria will let us in, or if we will be attacked on the way.

For endless hours we drove past machine gun posts and fighters in
headscarves at checkpoints. Through the desert, past destroyed civilian
buses, wrecked bridges, AA guns, pick-up trucks. A destroyed Red Crescent
ambulance. Recent horrors.

We were at the border before dark. A cursory passport check by a man eating
his dinner. Another asked if I was British and smiled, pulling his finger
across his throat when I said yes.

Friday 28 March

Sorrowful and lonely in Damascus. No planes, no bombing. Instead, mobile
phones, new cars, women, Benetton adverts and recycling bins. Nothing seems

I walked around, not knowing what to do, wishing only to be in Baghdad. With
my friends, for the hell and high water still to come.


LONDON, March 31 (AFP) - Two British soldiers have been sent home from Iraq
for refusing to fight in the US-led war and could now face a court martial,
a spokesman for their lawyer said on Monday.

The spokesman said the two soldiers had told their commanding officers they
did not want to fight in a war "involving the death of innocent civilians."

The defence ministry in London would not confirm the spokesman's comments.

Meanwhile, the lawyer did not wish to be named for fear of identifying his

According to reports in the British press, the two returning soldiers belong
to the 16 Air Assault Brigade, currently involved in operations in southern

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