U.S. air strikes in Baghdad area target Republican Guard forces; Six Baath party members killed
U.S. helicopters have begun attacking Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard forces arrayed around Baghdad, a Pentagon official said Monday.
Asked about ground forces, Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal said, "We have not gotten into direct firefights with Republican Guard forces." The Army's Third Infantry division moved to within 80 kilometers of the Iraqi capital.
He said that thus far in the war, 2,000 precision-guided weapons have been used against the Iraqis. "All of the pieces are falling into place," McChrystal told a Pentagon briefing.
McChrystal expressed regret about a U.S. bomb that hit a passenger bus carrying Syrian civilians fleeing the war.
The general said the bomb was aimed at a bridge 160 kilometers from the Syrian border. "A bus came into the pilot's view too late to recall the bomb aimed at the bridge," he said.
"Unintended casualties like this are regrettable," said McChrystal, vice chief of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Meanwhile, Iraqi television said on Monday six members of President Saddam Hussein's ruling Baath party died in fighting in Nassiriya south of Baghdad. "The Arab Baath Socialist Party announces that six of its members, among them a policeman, were martyred while they were chasing the Americans and British troops near Nassiriya," it said.
The Euphrates river city, 375 km south of Baghdad, has seen some of the fiercest fighting in the five-day war on Iraq.
And in Cairo, Arab countries have condemned the "aggression" against Iraq and called for the immediate withdrawal of US and British forces from the country. The move came at a summit of Arab League foreign ministers in the Egyptian capital.
The final resolution also called on Arab states not to participate in any military action "damaging to the unity and territorial integrity of Iraq". The resolution was adopted unanimously except for Kuwait, which expressed reservations. (Albawaba.com)
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