Four precision bombs pulverized a building in Baghdad on Monday where authorities believed Saddam Hussein and other leaders were meeting.
Earlier, U.S. armor had stormed into Baghdad and U.S. soldiers seized presidential palaces and government offices, then toppled a statue of Saddam on horseback. A prisoner-of-war pen was erected on the grounds of the bombed-out New Presidential Palace.
U.S. officials say the Iraqi army appears to be in disarray. Marines entered Baghdad over a pontoon bridge after Iraqis shelled a permanent span nearby and made it unsafe for heavy vehicles. U.S. explosive experts blew up the old bridge.
Military checkpoints were set up on all major arteries leading out of Baghdad, but authorities said civilians would be allowed to come and go.
Near Albu Muhawish, U.S. Army personnel testing for traces of possible nerve agents recorded positive readings. More tests are planned to determine whether the substances are banned under international law.
In Basra, British forces have nearly completed occupation of the city in southern Iraq, the nation's second largest.
In southern Iraq, only one oil well remains on fire. U.S. authorities said all but 40 of the region's 940 wells are under "some degree" of coalition control.
At Marine Combat Headquarters in Iraq, commanders said they were not sure yet whether a raid killed "Chemical Ali," a cousin of Saddam's and the military leader considered most likely to launch a chemical attack. British authorities said his body was found in his bombed-out home, but he has been reported dead more than once after repeated attempts to kill him. "This guy has been like Freddy Krueger," said Col. Larry Brown of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. "We've killed him four or five times."
In Karbala, a Shiite Muslim city 60 miles southeast of Baghdad, U.S. troops consolidated control after battles with Iraqi paramilitaries menacing supply lines.
CASUALTIES TO DATE
U.S. military: 89 dead.
British military: 30 dead.
Iraqi forces: Coalition commanders estimate that at least 3,000 Iraqi solders have been killed in the defense of Baghdad.
In Belfast, Northern Ireland, President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair met to discuss plans for a post-Saddam Iraq. Blair is expected to urge a United Nations role for administering the nation, an option that Bush has resisted.
At the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said that planning is under way to hand control of several government ministries over to Iraqi civilians. Rumsfeld reiterated that the United States does not plan to administer Iraq for long.
WEATHER IN BAGHDAD
High temperature: 92
Low temperature: 71
"There is no presence of American infidels in the city of Baghdad, at all."
_ Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, Iraqi information minister.
"The U.S. advance on Baghdad is something that military historians and academics will pore over in great detail for decades to come."
_ British Air Marshal Brian Burridge.
(c) 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.