Operation Iraqi Freedom - March 29
A cruise missile apparently fired by Iraq fell into the sea and exploded near Kuwait's most popular mall early Saturday. There were no reports of injuries.
A suicide bomber detonated explosives hidden in a taxi at a U.S. checkpoint near the contested city of Najaf today, killing four U.S. soldiers in the first such attack of the war. The Iraqi regime awarded the bomber two posthumous medals, warned that suicide attacks will be used against US forces and the US homeland.
In the first significant addition to coalition forces since the war began, 2,300 Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit landed in Kuwait today and will quickly deploy to the sites in southern Iraq where resistance has been fiercest.
Over the past few days, the U.S. military has focused much of its counterinsurgency activity in and around Nasiriyah, a city of about 500,000 people about a third of the 300-mile distance between the Kuwaiti border and Baghdad. Although Marines seized two bridges in the city last weekend that are crucial to the movement of troops and supplies toward Baghdad, U.S. supply convoys have been subjected to regular attacks from a paramilitary group called Saddam's Fedayeen.
Much of the 3rd Infantry Division has assembled between Najaf and Karbala as it prepares to confront the Medina Division of Hussein's elite Republican Guard before making a final thrust into the capital. Although the 3rd Infantry has been trying to rest and resupply after a high-speed dash through the desert from Kuwait, many of its units have been tied up trying to target militiamen in and around the two cities.
The Pentagon suspended Tomahawk cruise missile flights over parts of Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, in response to a request from the kingdom after some of the missiles, fired from U.S. Navy vessels in the Red Sea, malfunctioned en route to targets in Iraq and crashed in Saudi territory, U.S. defense officials said. Others have fallen in Iran and Turkey.
Allied pilots flew more than 1,000 sorties from aircraft carriers and land bases, U.S. officials said. At one point this afternoon, officials said, more than 300 Air Force, Navy, Marine and British planes were in the air. Iraqi forces staged their own raid overnight at Basra International Airport, sending in a contingent of light armored vehicles in what British officers saw as an attempt to probe defenses at the airport. The British reported driving off the attack, destroying three Iraqi tanks with artillery or antitank weapons and calling in U.S. AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters which reported hitting another two tanks.
Casualty report: In Washington, officials said there are 28 Americans dead, 16 missing in action and 107 wounded. By contrast, they say hundreds of Iraqi combatants have been killed and thousands taken prisoner.
Civilian casualties: At least 58 people died in an explosion at a market in northwest Baghdad, Iraqi officials said, and they blamed coalition bombs. U.S. officials said they were looking into the incident. A possible missile strike on another market killed 14 people Wednesday.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|