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Kirkuk Falls, Mosul Next, Tikrit Soon
By Jeff Gannon
Talon News
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 before.

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.


Copyright © 2003 Talon News -- All rights reserved





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