U.S. and British forces made steady but unspectacular progress Monday, moving to within 50 miles of Saddam Hussein's stronghold before stopping in the face of dwindling supplies and bad weather. Coalition forces all along the road to Baghdad had to defend themselves from small groups of Iraqis using small arms and rocket-propelled grenades.
Not far from the capital, two members of a U.S. helicopter crew in the Army's 101st Airborne Division were missing after a large-scale engagement with Iraq's Republican Guard. Iraqi television showed the downed Apache Longbow in Karbala, south of Baghdad.
There was good news for U.S. strategists, as they finally were able to take advantage of Turkey's limited cooperation. Bombers headed for Iraq—via Turkish airspace—from the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman.
Those planes might have been among those pressuring northern Iraq. A string of bombs—stronger than those dropped last week—fell on Mosul after a relatively quiet weekend for that city on the Tigris River.
A British soldier died in action in southern Iraq. No other details were available, but it brought the United Kingdom's death toll in the conflict to 17.
A member of the U.S. 1st Marine Expeditionary Force died after a vehicle accident at Camp Commando in Kuwait. Three others were injured.
Casualties to date (approximate)
U.S. military: 25 dead
British military: 17 dead
In Baghdad: No report available Monday from the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Journalists: 2 dead, 2 missing
In London, government officials and business leaders expressed concern that they might miss out on valuable postwar reconstruction contracts—which will be overseen by the United States—because of an American law that puts other nations' companies at a disadvantage. This would be a bitter blow to Britain, which has aided the war effort with 25,000 troops.
In Ankara, Turkey, negotiations about the possible deployment of Turkish troops in Iraq continued with an American special envoy. The United States and NATO allies want Turkey to keep its military out of Iraq, fearing a clash with Kurds who are aiding the coalition against Saddam. Turkey contends that it needs troops in Iraq to protect its interests.
In al Ruweishid, Jordan, a refugee camp ready to house thousands was virtually empty. Aid officials had expected 600,000 people to leave Iraq at the beginning of the war, heading for Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan or Syria. But some Iraqis, apparently heartened by the early stages of the war, are returning home after leaving earlier. During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, 1.8 million Iraqis fled.
The differences between Washington and Moscow over Iraq continued to grow. President Bush complained to Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russian companies are selling war materials to Iraq. Putin warned that the United States could be helping to cause a humanitarian crisis in the war zone.
A tape of a speech by Saddam broadcast on Iraqi television could have been made in recent days or longer ago than that, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said. "It would not be a surprise if Saddam Hussein had some time ago put in the can numerous statements designed to be released later," Fleischer said.
AROUND THE USA
In New York, the stock markets dropped sharply after investors spent the weekend watching sobering news reports from the front lines. The Dow fell 307 points and the Nasdaq 52 points, a drop of about 3.6 percent each. The declines followed sharp surges last week.
In San Francisco, 50 antiwar demonstrators were arrested at the Transamerica Building, which is home to the Carlyle Group, a private global investment firm. Many of the activists brought blue and purple mats to practice yoga in front of the building.
WEATHER IN BAGHDAD
High temperature: 84
Low temperature: 48
"I don't think that this regime is being dismantled or deteriorating. They are still sticking to each other, waiting for the stage when Kalashnikov will face the M-16. In this kind of war, the United States of America has no advantage, because it's one by one, man on man, rifle against rifle."
_Mordechai Kedar, an Israeli expert on Saddam.
(c) 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.