Coalition forces continued to bomb Baghdad and other key targets early Saturday, trying to weaken the enemy before a potential attack Sunday or Monday on Republican Guard units south of the capital. A missile struck a Baghdad market and killed at least 58 people, according to media reports in the Middle East.
In An Najaf, 100 miles south of Baghdad, U.S. soldiers found that weapons had been stashed near the surrounding roads to help Baath Party followers employing hit-and-run tactics.
Farther south, fierce battles continued in An Nasiriyah, one of the war's key battlegrounds. Three Marines died and four were missing.
Near Sulaimaniyah in Kurdish-controlled Iraq, rebels supported by American forces overran a remote enclave occupied by an extremist group allied with Osama bin Laden. Sixty members of Ansar al Islam were killed.
In Kuwait City, a missile fell into the sea near a shopping mall at 1:45 a.m. Saturday (5:45 p.m. EST Friday).
There were no injuries and little damage, but no missile had come so closing to damaging the capital since the war began in neighboring Iraq. U.S. Patriot missiles guard Kuwait against such attacks, and have stopped several. There were no air raid sirens before the missile landed.
CASUALTIES TO DATE
U.S. military: 29 dead.
British military: 22 dead.
Iraqi forces: Unavailable.
In Jerusalem, a survey in a leading newspaper, Ma'ariv, said that 68 percent of respondents do not expect Iraq to attack Israel. There had been so much fear of an attack that the Israeli government had urged residents to carry gas masks at all times.
In Tehran, tens of thousands of Iranians demonstrated against the U.S. invasion of Iraq, although some protesters shouted slogans condemning Saddam, too.
The event was government-sanctioned, as were smaller protests in Jordan and Egypt.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld complained that military equipment, including night-vision goggles, has been reaching Saddam's forces via Syria. Rumsfeld, who charged recently that Russia sold anti-tank guided missiles, jamming devices and night-vision goggles to Iraq, said Syria would be "held accountable," but did not elaborate. Syrian officials were not available to comment, but Syria's president, Bashar Assad, has derided the war as "flagrant aggression" by the U.S.-British coalition.
State Department officials said Iraqi intelligence officers had planned to attack U.S. targets in two foreign countries but that local authorities had foiled the plots. One of the countries was believed to be Jordan.
AROUND THE UNITED STATES
At the United Nations, the Security Council agreed unanimously to restart the oil-for-food program that aids Iraqi civilians. The program—the only reliable source of food for more than half of Iraq's 24 million people—began in December 1996, allowing Iraq to sell oil to purchase food, medicine and other civilian supplies under U.N. supervision.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan suspended the program when the threat of war prompted the evacuation of 300 relief workers. The problem now is finding a way to get the food to Iraqi towns under siege. Friday, some 200 tons of food and water arrived by ship at Umm Qsar, but that is only a fraction of the daily demand.
In San Diego, businesses are suffering because fewer people are visiting from Tijuana, Mexico. San Diego often is viewed as attractive to terrorists because of its Navy and Marine bases. Tighter security at border crossings also has discouraged casual visits. That has cut down on the number of U.S. tourists in Tijuana, too, merchants said.
WEATHER IN BAGHDAD
Saturday: Partly cloudy
High temperature: 68
Low temperature: 46
Amphibian: A small craft that moves via propellers and wheels or air cushions on both land and water.
"We're going to find them and kill them."
_ Marine Lt. Col. George Smith, discussing the snipers who have been harassing U.S. supply columns.
(c) 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.