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US, British Forces Move Quickly to Secure Key Military Targets
and Oil Fields
21 Mar 2003, 17:33 UTC
U.S. and British forces are capturing territory in southern
and western Iraq, moving quickly to secure key military
targets and oil fields.
U.S. Marine raises flag over new port
area of Umm Qasr -->
Pentagon officials say American and British soldiers have captured
two key airfields in western Iraq called H-2 and H-3 without
encountering much resistance. Officials say the airfields
could be sites where Iraq is keeping Scud missiles or weapons
of mass destruction.
Coalition soldiers are encountering both hostile fire and white
flags in their race across the desert toward Baghdad and Basra.
British soldiers have secured the Faw peninsula on the
Persian Gulf, where strategic oil facilities are located. U.S.
Marines have captured the strategic port in the southern
Iraqi city of Umm Qasr. Hundreds of Iraqi soldiers have surrendered,
while others have fired at advancing coalition troops.
U.S. military officials are reporting the first combat fatality
of the war. They say a U.S. marine was killed in fighting during
an advance on an oil field in southern Iraq.
Earlier, eight British and four American soldiers were killed
when a U.S. Marine helicopter crashed in northern Kuwait.
There were no reports of hostile fire in the area.
Pentagon officials are denying claims by the Iraqi military
that its anti-aircraft batteries shot down a U.S. or British
warplane during an air raid Friday.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon released a statement saying
water could be used as a weapon in the Iraqi military arsenal.
Defense officials say Iraq could deliberately use flooding by
releasing water from reservoirs or destroying dams. The
Pentagon says Iraq used this tactic to deter Iranian troop advances
during the Iran-Iraq war.
Defense officials say such a move could displace thousands
of Iraqis, causing a major humanitarian crisis.