U.S. Marines who began occupying and attacking the east side of Baghdad encountered fierce resistance from Iraqi forces. The conflict initially was centered on a warehouse in a built-up area from which an Iraqi sniper shot at 1st Battalion Marines. A combination of large bombs dropped by low-flying aircraft, mortar rounds and heavy artillery fire eventually destroyed the building.
Marines seized the Rasheed air base east of Baghdad, preventing Iraqi officials from escaping and giving allies another way to fly in troops and supplies. U.S. Marines searched the base for missing American soldiers Tuesday but came up with only discarded uniforms bearing some of the POWs' names.
Generals continued trying to determine whether four 2,000-pound bombs dropped on a Baghdad restaurant Monday killed Saddam Hussein and his sons. There are no coalition forces in the area, and ground troops may need to push their way toward the ruins so investigators can analyze whether Saddam or his sons were killed. U.S. Central Command officials said they had had "human intelligence," generally considered to be the most accurate, that Saddam would be at the restaurant that afternoon.
American troops fought elements of Saddam's Special Republican Guard, his most elite soldiers, along with some paramilitary units. The soldiers and Marines destroyed Iraq's most deadly tanks, the T-72, along with armored vehicles, artillery pieces and some of the machine gun-mounted pickups used effectively against Americans in Somalia.
Near Baghdad, coalition troops rescued a pilot after he ejected from his A-10 "Warthog" just before it crashed. The A-10s, also known as tank-busters, have been prominently used as the focus of the air war shifts from bombing larger targets to providing urban close-air support during the battle for Baghdad.
CASUALTIES TO DATE
U.S. military: At least 92 dead.
British military: 30 dead.
Iraqi forces: Unavailable.
In Northern Ireland, President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair celebrated battlefield triumphs and papered over their differences as they mapped out plans for Iraq's transition from dictatorship to democracy. Meeting in a 17th-century Irish castle, the wartime partners agreed to give the United Nations a "vital role" in postwar Iraq, without saying exactly what that meant.
Central Command officials were investigating two Baghdad strikes that killed three journalists. The military said American troops came under "significant enemy fire" from two buildings and attacked in keeping with their "inherent right of self-defense." In one incident, a missile reportedly struck the office used by the Qatar-based al Jazeera TV network, killing a reporter. In the other, at the Palestine Hotel, where several reporters have been staying, journalists from Reuters and Spain's Tele 5 were killed.
WEATHER IN BAGHDAD
Wednesday: Partly cloudy
High temperature: 89
Low temperature: 63
"We have not been certain for a very long time who is in charge. There are still pockets of regime leadership."
_ U.S. Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks
"We are in control. They are in a state of hysteria. Losers, they think that by killing civilians and trying to distort the feelings of the people they will win."
_ Iraqi Information Minister Mohamed Said Sahhaf
"I don't know whether (Saddam) survived. The only thing I know is that he's losing power."
_ President Bush
(c) 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.