U.S., British troops on outskirts of Basra
Coalition forces are on the outskirts of Iraq's second largest city Basra. The development was announced Friday by the UK's Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Sir Michael Boyce.
He also gave details of British commandos' capture of the Al Faw peninsula and its vital oil infrastructure, as well as the American seizure of the strategically important nearby port town of Umm Qasr.
Boyce revealed that American troops, flanked by two British battle groups, had reached the outskirts of Basra. He said: "It is very early days, but I have to say the coalition progress so far has been promising.
"The leading elements of that formation are now on the outskirts of Basra itself. On the way, they have seen a lot of evidence of large-scale Iraqi capitulation, evidenced by abandoned positions and equipment."
British Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said good progress had been made overnight in securing the Al Faw peninsula, and Royal Marines had confirmed that the oil infrastructure there had not been destroyed.
Hoon said: "Any attempt by Saddam Hussein to release oil into the Gulf to create an environmental disaster has been thwarted."
Boyce said the troops of 40 Commando had taken the surrender of Iraqi troops "in very significant numbers" at Al Faw.
But, he warned Saddam could still be holding back his chemical weapons and may be prepared to use them. Sir Michael said: "If I was in his shoes, I would be wisely keeping my chemical weapons back because using them would prove what we all know - that he has got them." (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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