Because of difficulty protecting U.S. supply lines, 30,000 more American troops were summoned Wednesday to fly in from the States, including the Army's 4th Infantry Division. Also, the Army's 101st Airborne Division, held in reserve in Kuwait, was sent into action.
Help came from the sky, too. Nearly 1,000 U.S. Army paratroopers, in a night operation, added a stabilizing force in northern Iraq, near the border with Turkey.
South of Baghdad, in An Najaf, the Americans won a fierce battle, sustaining no fatal injuries while killing 40 Iraqis, according to the U.S. military.
Farther south, Basra continued to be a hot spot. It was the site of an anti-Saddam insurrection by civilians, but the extent of it was uncertain.
"We believe there was some limited form of uprising,'' said British Prime Minister Tony Blair. His commanders dispatched 25,000 troops—including the famed "Desert Rats" of the 7th Armored Brigade—to keep out Iraqi reinforcements while attempting to protect protesters, some of whom were being killed by rogue Iraqi troops.
CASUALTIES TO DATE (APPROXIMATE)
U.S. military: 24 dead.
British military: 19 dead.
Iraqi forces: Unavailable.
In Baghdad: Iraqi officials said Wednesday that at least 14 people died and 30 were hurt when a U.S. missile struck a residential neighborhood. American officials promised to investigate, but said Iraq was to blame for any civilian deaths because it was placing military assets near the homes of its people.
In Diyarbakir, Turkey, the nation's military chief said his forces wouldn't add to their presence in Iraq unless there was a humanitarian disaster, an attack on Turks or infighting among Kurdish groups. And if Turkey did send more troops to Iraq, it would do so in cooperation with the United States, Gen. Hilmi Ozkok said. Turkey insists on the right to use its military to stem a refugee crisis; after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, 500,000 Kurds fled across the border into Turkey. Turkish troops already patrol a 12-mile buffer zone in northern Iraq, but the United States opposes a greater presence, fearing that clashes between Turks and Kurds could endanger coalition troops.
In Rome, the chief spokesman for the U.N. World Food Program said Iraq probably would need the biggest humanitarian operation in history to feed its population of 27 million for six months. The food agency will have to rebuild a distribution system for Iraq after the interruption last week of the U.N.-backed oil-for-food program, spokesman Trevor Rowe said.
The program allowed Iraq, living under U.N. sanctions imposed after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, to export oil and use the revenues to pay for food, medicine and other civilian goods.
The Senate approved a $2.2 trillion budget for 2004 that gives President Bush only half the $726 billion in tax reductions he has sought. The House of Representatives had approved a budget that included all of Bush's requested tax cuts. Now, the Senate must work out a compromise with the House.
"We made an irresponsible budget a little more responsible," said Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D.
AROUND THE USA
At MacDill Air Force Base near Tampa, Fla., President Bush defended the U.S. military strategy, although he said "the path we are taking is not easy and it may be long." Bush visited the Joint Intelligence Center of the U.S. Central Command, which is directing the war, before flying to Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland, to have dinner with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
In Fort Worth, officials at the Texas Motor Speedway said a NASCAR race Sunday is expected to draw the largest single gathering of Americans—more than 210,000—since the war began. Organizers are so confident of security arrangements that they vowed to race even if the Homeland Security Department's terrorism-alert level rises to Code Red. The crowd is expected to include 154,000 in seats, plus guests in the Speedway Club and Lone Star Tower and huge throngs in the infield.
WEATHER IN BAGHDAD
High temperature: 63
Low temperature: 43
``If someone surrenders to you, keep that muzzle pointed right in their face."
_Marine Capt. Joseph Bevan, on guarding against the dangers of fake surrenders.
(c) 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.