Operation Iraqi Freedom - April 2
The U.S. military says its forces have moved within 50 kilometers of the southern outskirts of Baghdad, the goal of the two-week-old campaign in Iraq.
The advance on Baghdad has been coming from two directions, the southwest and the southeast.
From the southwest, U.S. Army units pushed past Republican Guard positions west of Karbala toward Baghdad and seized control of a nearby dam. There had been fears that Iraqis would blow up the dam and flood the region, making it impassable to coalition troops.
From the southeast, near the city of Kut, U.S. Marines "destroyed" the Baghdad Division of the Republican Guard. There they also seized a strategically located bridge over the Tigris River, which runs through Baghdad farther north.
The quick advance of U.S. forces has not come without problems. First, Iraqi guerrillas repeatedly attacked allied supply convoys and otherwise harassed the allied troops, slowing their progress toward Baghdad.
One Iraqi unit in Najaf, 150 kilometers south of Baghdad, has been firing on coalition troops with impunity because they have taken up positions in the Ali Mosque, a gold-domed structure that is said to be the burial place of Ali, Muhammad's son-in-law. U.S. and British forces have declared such sites in Iraq to be so-called "no-target" zones.
There also has been renewed bombing of Baghdad itself, and of Mosul in northern Iraq. Also north of Baghdad, U.S. forces have been deploying at an aging air strip near Irbil to help set the stage for a drive against Baghdad from the north.
Also in northern Iraq, U.S. Special Forces have been working closely with Kurdish fighters opposed to Saddam's rule. This prompted a warning yesterday from the Baghdad government, which said the Kurds would regret siding with the Americans.
The allies view a northern front as essential to driving Saddam from power. But organizing the effort has been slowed because Turkey, which borders on northern Iraq, has refused to allow U.S. and British forces to use its military bases for the war. Ankara has, however, permitted coalition planes to use its airspace for flights into Iraq.
Coalition forces struck a farm used as a command and control facility in Radwaniyah at approximately 11:30 a.m. EST on April 2. The facility, struck by JDAMs, allowed the Iraqi Regime to relocate and maintain command and control authority of military and paramilitary forces. It is located immediately southwest of Baghdad. Battle damage assessment is ongoing.
Coalition aircraft struck a heavily secured storage facility of the Iraqi Regime with nearly 40 JDAMs at approximately 2 p.m. EST. The facility is located in the Al Karkh district of Baghdad, north of the former Muthenna airfield. The regime, special security organization and possibly the special republican guard use the facility. These groups store critical military and security supplies for the regime in this building. Battle damage assessment is ongoing.
Coalition air forces continued pounding regime targets all over Iraq. However, the vast majority of targets have been close-air support to coalition land forces. Air forces flew more than 1,900 sorties on April 2 with 900 strike sorties. Two-thirds of those were against Iraqi Republican Guard targets. There were 500 tanker sorties on April 2 and that increase shows the close-air support nature of the aerial fighting yesterday.
A Coalition F/A-18C, a single-seat aircraft, went down at approximately 3:45 p.m. EST on April 2 during ongoing Coalition air operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed in central Iraq at approximately 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday. It was on an operational mission. Initial reports are that there were six individuals on board, though casualties have not been confirmed at this point.
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