Kerbala encircled; Reports: US forces advance further north and west
U.S. forces have encircled the Shi'ite holy city of Kerbala, securing all major exit routes, and are now advancing further north, a Reuters correspondent said.
The Reporter said rather than tackle Iraqi troops who might be positioned inside the central Iraqi city, which lies some 110 km southwest of Baghdad, U.S. forces are instead advancing further north and west.
Earlier, it was reported that American soldiers battled Republican Guard troops around this city of Karbala. The U.S. Army fought parts of the guard's Medina Division after Tomahawk cruise missiles and airstrikes pounded division positions in the area.
About 160 km to the southeast, across the Euphrates River, U.S. Marines near the town of Dinwaniyah killed at least 80 Iraqi soldiers and took more than 40 prisoners in an eight-hour battle, US sources said.
Firefights reported also around Kut, a city of about 400,000.
For his part, Iraq's defense minister, Sultan Hashem Ahmed, claimed aerial bombardment of Republican Guard positions south of Baghdad had caused minimal damage, because of "good fortifications." "The Republican Guard Corps are in their best morale and will inflict damage on the enemy that it had never seen before," he said.
He added that invasion forces had failed to capture any towns, because "they never found anyone to cooperate with them." (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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