Iraqi forces destroy US tanks near Najaf; US sends more troops to Iraq
Invasion troops fought a fierce battle with Iraqi forces on Wednesday for control of a bridge over the Euphrates river close to the southern Iraqi city of Najaf, a U.S. military officer monitoring the clash said.
He said an unspecified number of U.S. tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles had been destroyed by Iraqis armed with rocket propelled grenades and automatic rifles during the clash at Abu Sukhayr, 20 kilometers southeast of Najaf.
He said he believed that the U.S. crews, under the command of the 3rd Infantry division, had escaped from their vehicles but their fate was still unclear.
The officer said air support had been called in to support the U.S. forces. Earlier, US sources said troops backed by tanks tore apart a band of outgunned Iraqis and killed 650.
The Pentagon Wednesday released the name of an Army soldier killed in action March 24 in Iraq, and two Marines missing near Nasiriyah, south of Baghdad. As of Wednesday, there were 21 people confirmed killed in action. At least 14 are missing in action and there are two confirmed American prisoners of war.
Meanwhile, the United States is flying its high-tech 4th Infantry Division and other units totaling more than 30,000 troops to the Gulf to join the invasion of Iraq, the military said on Wednesday.
Troops from the division will begin flying to the Gulf region in coming days to join its heavy armor and equipment now approaching Kuwait on ships.
The division, with a total of 16,000 troops at has been awaiting deployment for more than two months. It was originally scheduled to go to Turkey to open a northern front against Baghdad.
The division's equipment, including more than 200 M-1A2 tanks, is currently being shipped from waters off Turkey to Kuwait and the troops are expected to go there.
He said that other military units totaling about 14,000 troops were also moving with the division. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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