- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 26, 2003

From combined dispatches
BAGHDAD Gray smoke from fuel fires and a swirling sandstorm enveloped Iraq's capital city yesterday, where intermittent explosions once again rattled residents who embraced life's simple routines even as U.S.-led troops moved closer.
Garbage trucks rolled the streets picking up refuse, which was piled high in some neighborhoods, while public transportation buses were running normally. Traffic was on the increase, and more stores and shops were open than at any time since the first missile hit Baghdad last week.
The smoke hanging over the city came not from those missiles, but from fuel fires set by Baghdad authorities, an effort to obscure military targets in the city. Visibility was further hampered by a powerful sandstorm that seemed to cover everything in the city with a fine coat of sand.
U.S.-led troops were within 50 miles of the capital, setting up a seemingly inevitable fight for control of the historic city of 5 million residents.
President Saddam Hussein urged Iraqi tribesmen to join the battle against U.S. and British forces, telling them how to wage a guerrilla campaign against invading troops.
A statement read on Iraqi state television and attributed to Saddam told Iraqi tribes to "fight the enemy wherever they are" without waiting for battle orders from military commanders.
"The enemy has violated your lands and now they are violating your tribes and families," the statement said.
A second statement read out on state-run television later, and again attributed to Saddam, exhorted the Fedayeen paramilitary troops to ruthlessly hunt down the enemy.
"You are the people of sacrifice. Go after them and beat them wherever you find them. Kill them and beat them everywhere with determination," the statement said. "Kill them. May God make you victorious."
Founded in 1995 and under the command of Saddam's elder son, Uday, the fiercely loyal Saddam Fedayeen could number as many as 30,000.
Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf said his countrymen were unshaken by the prospect of combat in the streets of Baghdad.
The Iraqis "await surprises on how the American game of shock and awe will fail," Mr. al-Sahhaf said.
The wind in Baghdad became so wicked yesterday that palm trees and traffic lights swayed madly, with security men and police hiding behind sandbags ordinarily military outposts in search of respite.
At the height of the sandstorm, the explosions that echoed through the capital for most of the day ceased.
More security and police officers were seen around the city than last week, and residents reported members of Saddam's feared intelligence agencies were also posted on the streets.
The bombing was on the outskirts of the city, with its echoes easily audible in the heart of Baghdad. Some residents were busy digging new defensive trenches or expanding existing ones; some were dug in the courtyard of the Iraq museum, home to priceless antiques.
Iraqi state television went off the air for about 45 minutes after explosions were heard in the city in the evening.
There were unconfirmed reports in Baghdad that the outage followed a hit on a television transmission tower north of Baghdad in Abu Ghareib.
Television, like state radio, constantly played patriotic songs and messages of support from Iraqis for their president.
Tuesday's edition of Babil, a daily paper owned by Saddam's son Uday, featured back-page photos of decapitated bodies that it said belonged to Iraqi civilians killed in bombing raids

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