LATEST DEVELOPMENTS IN IRAQ
American Marines on Monday secured the city of Tikrit, which fell with little resistance despite being a stronghold of the powerful Baath Party and the hometown of Saddam Hussein. U.S. commanders believe Tikrit was their last major military challenge; now they are focusing on helping the country gain stability.
A U.S.-sponsored meeting Tuesday in the southern Iraq town of Nasiriyah is expected to attract 60 Iraqi leaders—some of them expatriates, all of them with anti-Saddam credentials—to begin work on establishing a new government. The gathering is to be the first of several around the country.
A crisis was defused Monday in Najaf when three Shiite clerics were freed. They were saved after busloads of their supporters arrived to scare off hundreds of armed men who had surrounded the clerics' homes. The armed men then sought sanctuary in a Shiite shrine.
In a Baghdad neighborhood northwest of Saddam City, as many as 17 Iraqi civilians were killed and as many as 100 injured when an Iraqi munitions dump exploded. Witnesses told Marines that children had been playing amid the munitions.
Looting in Baghdad and other areas has declined, according to U.S. military spokesmen. Iraqi neighborhood watches are working with coalition forces in several cities to restore calm. In some cases, police are back on duty.
In Karbala, southwest of Baghdad, American troops found 11 containerized laboratories—each 20 feet square—that had been buried. American officials will investigate whether the small labs were used to manufacture banned chemical or biological weapons.
CASUALTIES TO DATE
U.S. military: 118 dead.
British military: 31 dead.
Iraqi forces: Coalition officials estimate 2,300 killed in the defense of Baghdad.
In Paris, leading archaeologists from around the world will meet Thursday to discuss how to rescue Iraq's cultural heritage, imperiled by the plundering of its museums. The heads of archaeological missions in Iraq from Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and the United States have been invited to the emergency meeting sponsored by UNESCO, a cultural arm of the United Nations. Some of the most devastating looting was at the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad.
In Madrid, Spain, authorities gave seven Iraqi officials 48 hours to leave the country after the government found 21 guns and 800 rounds of ammunition in the Iraqi Embassy. The embassy will remain open with a skeleton staff.
The Bush administration said it would consider diplomatic, economic and other steps against Syria because of concerns that Damascus is harboring fleeing Iraqi leaders and developing ways to make chemical weapons. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Syria—as well as other nations in the Middle East—should review their behavior in light of the fall of Baghdad.
WEATHER IN BAGHDAD
Tuesday: Partly cloudy
High temperature: 92
Low temperature: 66
"All the diets I tried back home weren't working. So I decided, I'll try the desert diet."
_ Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Russell Green, who has lost 20 pounds since arriving in Iraq.
(c) 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.