Military


Operation Iraqi Freedom - April 7
Day Nineteen

Following intelligence that Saddam Hussein and his two sons may have been attending a meeting in the al Mansour section of Baghdad, Iraq, a U.S. Air Force B-1B bomber was dispatched to the scene. The aircraft used precision-guided munitions to strike a suspected meeting of senior Iraqi regime leaders. The strike, using four 2,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs), including "Version 3" of the GBU-31 JDAM, took place at 2 p.m. Qatar time (7 a.m. EST). Initial reports suggested at least three buildings had been destroyed in the attack. The bombing left an 18-meter-deep crater.

Forces of the 3rd Infantry Divison (Mechanized) pushed into downtown Baghdad for the second time. Apparently this force, from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, intends to hold terrain in the downtown area, unlike the previous raid. The force of over 100 armored vehicles now holds the Republican Palace, the official seat of government for the Hussein regime. Other government facilities in the same area were captured or taken under fire by U.S. Army units. Iraqi resistance was uneven, but at times heavy concentrations of automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenades were fired against the advancing Army forces. An estimated 600 Iraqi soldiers and paramilitaries were killed and 70 armed vehicles ("technicals") were destroyed. Two U.S. soldiers were killed in the fighting, while two other soldiers and two European journalists were killed when a rocket struck a command post of the 2nd Bridade, 3rd ID(M).

In southern Iraq, British forces took control of Basra, following a two-week siege. British forces entered the central city yesterday, and were reported today to be consolidating their presence. A second Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel, the Sir Percivale, arrived at Umm Qasr bearing humanitarian relief supplies.

The U.S. Army said preliminary tests on substances in corroding metal drums, found at a military training camp near the city of Karbala, indicated a high probability of the presence of the nerve agents sarin and tabun and another agent, possibly phosgene. Officials in Washington would not confirm the report, which, if true, would represent the first recovery of banned weapons during the ongoing military operations.

U.S. Marine forces approached Baghdad from the East. While Iraqi forces attempted to blow bridges in the face of the American advance, Marines crossed the Diyala river at three points. During one of the crossings an amphibious vehicle was destroyed by Iraqi fire, killing two and wounding three Marines. It was believed that an Iraqi artillery shell penetrated the vehicle.

A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle went down at aproximately 7:30 p.m., EDT. The location and circumstances of the loss are not available, and the crew is MIA. The aircraft and crew were from the 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

A civilian Puma helicopter under contract to resupply U.S. naval units was lost on a mission to the carrier Theodore Roosevelt. Its crew was recovered by a U.S. Navy helicopter.

A CENTCOM spokesman also reported that U.S. special operations forces, with USAF close air support, had engaged Iraqi forces near Irbill and Kirkuk in northern Iraq.



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