in Iraq’s capital Baghdad on Sunday with United States-led
forces meeting fierce resistance in their efforts to capture the
Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf said troops killed 50
US soldiers and destroyed or damaged 16 US tanks close to Baghdad
airport. Troops from the Republican
Guard are still tightening the noose around US troops in the area
surrounding the airport, he said.
in the area reported seeing a destroyed US Abrams tank on a main
highway south out of Baghdad. Iraqi
officers said five US soldiers had been killed in a battle at the
scene. Dozens of Iraqi civilians crowded around the journalists
taken to the scene, shouting "Down, down Bush" and
"Long live Saddam Hussein".
with Kalashnikov rifles danced triumphantly over the hulk of the
charred tank in the Sayadia area, a southern entrance to the
capital. The journalists were taken to see the destroyed tank on
the side of the highway from Baghdad to Karbala, as an Iraqi tank
prepared to tow it away and stop it from obstructing traffic.
destroyed it with an anti-tank rocket along with the column of
trucks and vehicles that was following it," Ahmed Khoder, a
member of the special Republican Guard, told reporters. Khoder
said the fighting took place Saturday between 6:00 and 8:00 am
(0200 and 0400 GMT).
hour later President Saddam Hussein came to congratulate us and
asked us to fight until the end," he said. Khoder,
wearing civilian attire but armed with a Kalashnikov assault rifle
and with ammunition strapped across his chest, said there were
four men and one woman inside the tank. "They're all
dead," Khoder said.
Iraqi Information Minister said Baghdad was still firmly under
Iraqi control, but US officials countered it claiming they could
move into the capital at will.
barrage of rockets was heard on Sunday around Baghdad, shortly
after heavy artillery echoed from the city's outskirts. The
explosions, accompanied by the roar of warplanes over the city
centre, echoed from the west and southwest, where the US-led
forces reinforced the international airport.
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Baghdad
hospitals were struggling to cope with the wounded and the
situation in the city was becoming desperate.
situation is extremely problematic now in terms of clean water
supply and sewage evacuation. Everybody now is operating on
back-up generators as there is hardly any power any more," an
ICRC spokeswoman said
temperatures exceeding 35 Celsius (95 Fahrenheit), thousands of
families set out on foot and in overloaded cars to find safety in
remote provinces away from the capital.
to agencies, US troops
are fighting to take control of highways leading northwest and
west out of Baghdad as they tried to encircle the Iraqi capital.
Colonel John Peabody, commander of the Engineer Brigade of
the 3rd Infantry Division said there were now about 7,000 troops
at the airport -- roughly a fourfold increase on initial levels.
a stream of US tanks and armoured vehicles moved across the
Euphrates river to bolster positions around Baghdad.
Central Command meanwhile claimed that 2,000 Iraqi troops had been
killed in the offensive against Baghdad. It
said his figure could include soldiers of the elite
Republican Guard forces. -- Al Jazeera and Agencies