Iraqi, British troops clash near Basra; Airplanes bomb targets in northern Iraq
British forces at the gates of Basra waged fierce battles with more than 1,000 Iraqi fighters.
"There seemed to be an uprising in Basra last night," British military spokesman Group Capt. Al Lockwood said Wednesday. "We are assessing the situation very carefully to see how we can capitalize on it and how we can assist.
Lockwood said on Tuesday afternoon, Iraqi civilians started attacking fighters who were defending the city from British forces. Iraq denies the reports on a revolt in Basra. Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed al-Sahhaf said "The situation is stable." "Resistance is continuing and we are teaching them more lessons."
Two British soldiers were killed by "friendly" fire near Basra. Col. Chris Vernon said the two men died when their Challenger II tank was mistakenly targeted by another Challenger crew on Monday evening.
American F/A-18 Super Hornet warplanes dropped satellite-guided bombs on central Basra, according to British reporters attached to military units — the first strikes into the center of the city, aimed at military sites hidden in civilian buildings.
Elsewhere, Marines in the southern city of An Nasiriyah secured a hospital being used as a military staging area for Iraqi forces, U.S. officials said. The Marines also found a T-55 tank on the compound.
The Marines had been fired at from the hospital the day before, officials said in a statement.
Meanwhile, US warplanes pounded frontline Iraqi positions on Wednesday near the town of Chamchamal in the Kurdish-controlled area in the north of the country, Reuters said.
Two large plumes of black smoke rose from hilltops two in the area, followed by two more explosions around an hour later.
Chamchamal lies some 32 kilometers east of the northern Iraqi oil city of Kirkuk, which has also been bombed in recent days.
U.S. warplanes have also bombarded northern positions held by the Islamic Ansar al-Islam group, which Washington accuses of having links to the al Qaeda network. (Albawaba.com)