Kirkuk Falls, Mosul
Next, Tikrit Soon
By Jeff Gannon
April 11, 2003
WASHINGTON (Talon News) -- The
northern city of Kirkuk fell to Kurdish forces Thursday with little
resistance. U.S. Special Forces, later joined by elements of the Army's
173rd Airborne Brigade, helped secure the city of 100,000 which led
to scenes of liberation similar to those witnessed in Baghdad the day
Coalition troops are now poised to enter
the northern city of Mosul, Iraq's third largest. Lt. Col. Robert Waltemeyer,
commander of a U.S. Special Forces said, "We will be entering the city
in a matter of hours or days."
In advance of any incursion, the Kurdish
military was negotiating the surrenders of Iraqi leaders. Establishing
a political structure will be a top priority to avoid the looting and
retribution seen in other parts of the liberated country.
The capture of these two cities is a
prelude to what some suggest may be a last stand of the regime at Tikrit.
The area around Saddam Hussein's hometown is being softened with bombing
strikes and Special Operations missions near the desert city. American
troops have worked to block roads leading to Tikrit, hoping to keep
Iraqi leaders from fleeing there as well as reinforcements from arriving.
Despite success in the North, skirmishes
and suicide bombings in Baghdad added to the chaos in the Iraqi capital.
U.S. forces may encircle Baghdad, but it is "still an ugly place," warned
Maj. Gen. Gene Renuart, director of operations at U.S. Central Command
in Qatar. An airstrike against Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, Saddam's half-brother
in outside the city probably killed the dictator's advisor.
Violence in Najaf resulted in the death
of two clerics in a Shiite Muslim shrine. One of the slain clerics,
Haider al-Kadar, was a widely hated Saddam Hussein loyalist, part of
the Iraqi leader's ministry of religion. The other was Abdul Majid al-Khoei,
a high-ranking Shiite cleric and son of one of the religion's most prominent
ayatollahs, or spiritual leaders, who was persecuted by Saddam. Al-Khoei
had urged cooperation with U.S. troops. Witnesses said the two men were
rushed by the crowd and hacked to death with swords and knives.
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