Coalition bombs again rained down on Baghdad, with Thursday's blasts described as the heaviest in days. Witnesses said one of the sites hit was a housing complex for employees of a weapons-producing facility. A telephone facility also was damaged, causing outages.
Near An Najaf, 80 miles from the capital, U.S. troops suffered no fatalities in a battle against rogue Iraqi forces. The Americans, who were securing an air-defense compound, were under fire for six hours.
At An Nasiriyah, the Americans won a 90-minute engagement.
And to the east, U.S. forces fought for hours to get through Ash Shatra en route to al Kut. Civilians died, as did members of Saddam's Fedayeen.
The battle continued in Basra, in southern Iraq. Air Marshal Brian Burridge, commander of the British forces, said Iraqi soldiers who had quit were forced back into combat by pro-Saddam Hussein thugs. "They go to their houses and hold guns to their head," he said in describing the tactics.
CASUALTIES TO DATE (APPROXIMATE)
U.S. military: 24 dead.
British military: 22 dead.
Iraqi forces: Unavailable.
In London, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said he was confident that Paris could rebuild its damaged relations with Britain and the United States. He spoke at the International Institute for Strategic Studies on a day when British Prime Minister Tony Blair was out of the country, visiting President Bush. The British tabloid newspaper the Sun, which has called France cowardly for opposing the war in Iraq, sent a man dressed as a chicken to stand outside the hall where de Villepin spoke.
From the Eastern African nation of Djibouti, some 2,000 U.S. Marines are being shipped to Iraq from Task Force Horn of Africa to help Britain secure the port city of Umm Qasr.
President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, meeting at Camp David, expressed satisfaction at the pace of the war. "This isn't a matter of timetable, it's a matter of victory," Bush said. Blair reiterated his belief that the United Nations should lead the postwar rebuilding of Iraq, and said the president agreed. But Bush did not discuss that publicly.
AROUND THE USA
At the United Nations in New York, the U.S. ambassador, John Negroponte, walked out of a debate on the war after Iraq's ambassador accused the United States of trying to exterminate the Iraqi people. "I did sit through quite a long part of what he had to say, but I'd heard enough," Negroponte said.
Elsewhere in New York, antiwar protesters staged a "die-in" during the morning rush hour at Fifth Avenue and 50th Street in Manhattan, blocking the intersection by lying on the pavement. Police arrested 199.
In Detroit, Ford announced that its new, armored Lincoln Town Car will be available in late summer for $140,000. Ford, which will start by manufacturing 300 of the Ballistic Protection Series vehicles, said the project gained impetus when fear of terrorism grew after the Sept. 11 attacks. The car is designed to withstand the blast of a high-powered rifle. General Motors said its armored Cadillac DeVille would be available by 2004.
WEATHER IN BAGHDAD
Low temperature: 44
Ordnance: Refers to military supplies, including weapons, ammunition and combat vehicles. It also can refer to a service of the Army charged with procuring, distributing and safekeeping such supplies.
"It's cat and mouse stuff. If they stick their head out of the hole, we chop it off."
_British military spokesman Simon Scott, on Iraq's repeated efforts to pull its tanks out of Basra, a city under siege.
(c) 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.