Fierce battle reported south of Baghdad
US forces reported their first serious battle with Iraq's elite Republican Guard south of Baghdad.
Officers with the US Army's 3rd Infantry Division said 200 Iraqis were killed, wounded or captured in fighting that broke out overnight southeast of the city of Karbala, 80 kilometers from Baghdad. Colonel Will Grimsley, commander of the division's First Brigade, said there had been sporadic encounters earlier with elements of the Republican Guard in the area, but "this is the first serious contact."
US Apache helicopters attacked Iraqi positions north of Najaf, about 70 kilometers south of Karbala, in what a US officers described as "low-intensity" combat early Monday.
Elsewhere, fighting was reported in Najaf and the southern Iraqi city of Samawah while British forces launched a major assault to secure a suburb in the southern city of Basra.
In the north, Iraqi positions on the frontlines between government troops and Kurdish rebel-held territory came under air attack for a third night running.
US marines and Iraqi forces also traded artillery fire overnight as Americans launched bombing strikes on the central Iraqi town of Sharat, a military spokesman said.
Meanwhile, Iraq said on Monday it had destroyed a U.S. helicopter and tank and repeated pledges to defeat a U.S. and British invasion.
In an announcement on state television, an Iraqi military spokesman said "Let the Americans and British know that they themselves wanted war so they will not have any taste of peace until after we uproot them from our land." (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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