Operation Iraqi Freedom - March 24
US forces advanced beyond An Nasiriyah, while aviation forces attacked Republican Guard formations near Baghdad; one US helicopter was lost. Mine clearance operations in the southern waterways made good progress, with half the route to Umm Qasr made safe. Logistic preparations continued to allow the shipping of humanitarian supplies once the route was cleared. Basrah airport was secured.
Air raids against the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, and the northern city of Mosul continue this morning as U.S. and British forces enter their fifth day of fighting in Iraq.
Journalists in Mosul, which lies 350 kilometers north of Baghdad, say the city came under two waves of bombing, two hours apart, this morning. The sky in and around the city was filled with plumes of smoke.
Kurdish commanders report that hundreds of American forces have been flying into the surrounding region from neighboring Turkey, in a sign the U.S. may soon open a northern front.
Two British soldiers were reported missing after an attack on UK military vehicles in southern Iraq. In a separate incident, a British soldier was killed in action at Al Zubayr, near Basrah. The next of kin of all three have been informed.
Coalition aircraft flew more than 1,500 sorties in the continuing air war against the regime in Iraq on March 24, coalition officials in the region said today. More than 800 were strike sorties, with 200 of those being flown against "preplanned" targets. The rest were flown against "emerging targets" -- targets of opportunity. Coalition aircraft strike to suppress ballistic missile threats, to degrade Republican Guard and Special Republican Guard units, to support special operations forces and to strike targets of opportunity as they developed. They said specific targets in and around Baghdad include the government control center, the offices of the Special Security Organizations, the headquarters of the Special Republican Guards and the Iraqi Intelligence Service.
CENTCOM reported that a PATRIOT firing battery "successfully intercepted and destroyed" an incoming Iraqi tactical ballistic missile during an attack on U.S. and Coalition Forces in Kuwait at approximately 1:00 a.m. (5:00 p.m. EST). Two bright orange flashes were seen over Kuwait as the engaging PATRIOT missile destroyed the Iraqi TBM. It was unknown at the time what type of munitions the Iraqi missile was carrying. Also, while CENTCOM states that the Patriot successfully destroyed the missile, it did not disclose how many Patriot missiles were needed to bring down the Iraqi missile.
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