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VOICE OF AMERICA
SLUG: 2-315389 Iraq Sitrep Update (S/L)
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=4/26/2004

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE=IRAQ SITREP UPDATE (S/L)

NUMBER=2-315389

BYLINE=NICK SIMEONE

DATELINE=WASHINGTON

CONTENT=

VOICED AT:

/// UPDATES CR 2-315376; ADJUST CASUALTY TOLL IN INTRO AS NECESSARY ///

INTRO: At least three more American soldiers have died in a day of violence across Iraq (Monday). Correspondent Nick Simeone tells us that after weeks of battles with Iraqi insurgents, U-S military commanders are strongly suggesting that Sunni and Shiite rebels in two towns may soon face a full assault by coalition forces.

TEXT: /// NAT SOUND OF MACHINE GUN FIRE ///

Marines open fire on rebel targets in Fallujah. At least one American soldier and eight Iraqi fighters were killed in what reporters in the town describe as several hours of intense fighting, accompanied by helicopter air strikes on Sunni rebel targets.

Reporter Carl Penhall, attached to the U-S Marines, explains what he saw from a building where U-S forces took cover.

/// PENHALL ACT ///

Insurgent gunmen opened fire on the Marine platoon with rockets, with mortars and with automatic weapons fire. Mortar rounds were exploding all around that building. The Marines held on in those buildings, fighting back and firing back.

/// END ACT ///

In Baghdad, U-S Army General Mark Kimmitt calls this latest breach of a supposed Fallujah ceasefire evidence that Sunni fighters have not lived up to their side of the truce by turning in heavy weapons.

/// REST FOR LONG ///

/// KIMMITT ACT ///

Clearly, the amount of weapons that have been turned in come nowhere approximating the amount of weapons that are inside of Fallujah.

/// END ACT ///

And civilians have again been caught up in the crossfire.

/// ACT OF MAN IN ARABIC AND FADE ///

... including this man who says he and his neighbors are not rebels but were still targeted by rockets fired from American helicopters.

In Washington, Secretary of State Colin Powell suggested one last chance would be given to see if Fallujah's tribal leaders can persuade people he called "armed thugs" to lay down their arms.

/// POWELL ACT ///

We will take the time necessary to see if there is not a political solution but as you saw today, when our soldiers and our Marines are attacked, they will respond.

/// END ACT ///

Another flashpoint is in southern Iraq, in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, where rebel cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has been holding out along with thousands of militiamen in a revolt against the U-S-led military occupation. Reports say heavy gunfire broke out Monday between al-Sadr fighters and coalition forces on the outskirts of the city -- just hours after coalition spokesman Dan Senor issued a new warning to rebel militias in Najaf to stop using Shiite holy shrines as weapons depots.

/// SENOR ACT ///

Weapons must be removed from places of worship immediately. We will not tolerate it.

/// END ACT ///

In Baghdad, two coalition soldiers were killed Monday when a building they were searching for suspected chemical munitions exploded. The U-S military is not confirming reports that the troops conducting the search were part of the Iraq Survey Group, the Pentagon team that has been looking for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, which have yet to be found. (SIGNED)

NEB/NJS/KL/RH



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