U.S. war planes continued to pound Baghdad as dawn approached there Tuesday, trying to soften defenses and break down the government before the war brings coalition troops to Iraq's capital.
On the ground, the Army's 3rd Infantry Division moved within striking distance of Karbala, which is less than 50 miles from Baghdad and is believed to be the site of thousands of Iraqi militia members.
In Samawah, about 120 miles south of Baghdad, U.S. troops took more than 50 prisoners in an effort to control a town that is important to supply lines and also is home to many Iraqi irregulars. The coalition conducted a similar operation in Najaf, another town on the Euphrates River.
Also in Najaf, U.S. troops killed seven Iraqi women and children at a checkpoint when their van would not stop as ordered, an American official said. Coalition forces have stiffened security in reaction to a suicide bomber Friday and Iraq's vow to dispatch thousands of martyrs.
In Qai at Sukkar, near the southern city of Nasiriyah, U.S. Marines were welcomed by residents, who led them to a huge cache of weapons. "We hit the jackpot," Sgt. Sam Mortimer said.
In Umm Qasr, British troops continued their laborious search for terrorists, a process that has led to some innocents being detained. "In the fog of war, some of our people captured a 70-year-old Bedouin farmer," Maj. Rachel Grimes said.
In Kirkuk, in northern Iraq, enemy troops have continued to relinquish ground in the face of coalition bombing. Iraqi forces still control the town, but they have pulled back some 20 miles in the last four days.
CASUALTIES TO DATE
U.S. military: 48 dead.
British military: 24 dead.
Iraqi forces: Unavailable.
In London, the director of the World Food Program of the United Nations outlined a $1.3 billion emergency plan to feed Iraq's entire population but expressed worry about delivering aid during wartime. "Clearly, we will not go into places that are not safe and secure," WFP Director James T. Morris said. The U.N. Security Council approved the resumption of the separate oil-for-food program under the direction of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, but the Iraqi government rejected U.N. control of the program.
A State Department official said one of the Bush administration's top priorities after the war will be stopping Iran's nuclear arms program. But John Bolton, the undersecretary for arms control, did not suggest that military action would be used.
AROUND THE UNITED STATES
In Melville, N.Y., the headquarters for Newsday, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said he had told the families of two missing staff members last seen in Baghdad that he would try to help find them. Jackson, who has helped negotiate the release of American prisoners in past conflicts, said relatives of Newsday correspondent Matthew McAllester, 33, and photographer Moises Saman, 29, had asked him to help. Jackson said he would "do my very best." He said he had no plans to travel to the war theater. Newsday Editor Anthony Marro wrote Saturday that he believes that the Iraqi government has detained his staff members. Molly Bingham, a freelance photographer from Louisville, Ky., and Danish freelance photographer Johan Rydeng Spanner also are unaccounted for in Iraq.
In Philadelphia, President Bush spoke to several hundred Coast Guard personnel and emphasized the need to be vigilant against terrorism in the United States. The Coast Guard now is part of the Department of Homeland Security. "The dying regime in Iraq may try to bring terror to our shores," Bush said.
At the United Nations, Mexico on Tuesday will take over the presidency of the Security Council, which rotates leaders each month. Ambassador Adolfo Aguilar Zinser is expected to advocate greater humanitarian aid for Iraq. He may face pressure from home to urge an end to the war.
WEATHER IN BAGHDAD
High temperature: 79
Low temperature: 52
"They're fighting America and they're fighting those who don't fight America."
_Hoshiar Zubairy, an Iraqi opposition spokesman, on members of Saddam's Fedayeen, ruthless paramilitary troops who help assure that regular Iraqi soldiers don't defect.
(c) 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.