- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 16, 2003

WASHINGTON, April 16 (UPI) — Iraq is likely to be divided into two or three military regions, with U.S. Marines responsible for security in one, most likely the north, and the U.S. Army in the south and in and around Baghdad, a U.S. military official said Wednesday.

"I would expect (Gen. Tommy Franks) … will divide it into sectors: a Marine sector, an Army or 5th Corps sector, and then … the coalition forces operating as he sees fit," said Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, "and then within those sectors operate, again, in each specific area within the sector as required. And he'll have Special Operations forces available to him throughout, to augment and complement regular forces."

Franks visited Baghdad for the first time since the war started Wednesday.

McChrystal said Franks will likely soon set up a headquarters in Iraq, although not necessarily in Baghdad. He has been running the war from nearby Qatar.

"There's no replacing walking on the ground, leading your people, getting a feel for the situation that you just can't get from any distance away," McChrystal said.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Army accepted the surrender of the Iraqi 12th Armor Brigade, a regular unit, in Al-Ramadi. It had been defending the main road that connected Jordan to Baghdad, said Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, a Central Command spokesman in Qatar Wednesday.

"Most of the force had already been released from service, but the commander had 40 soldiers that remained there to actually guard the equipment in the garrison," Brooks said.

The unit followed the instructions of U.S. leaflets on how to arrange their weapons and forces to indicate a safe surrender.

"While there still may Baath Party loyalists in al-Ramadi, it's clear that the organized resistance there has come to an end," he said.

The surrender opens an important road that will allow the delivery of food and medical supplies from Jordan. Thus far the only safe route for supplies delivered by humanitarian groups is through Turkey, according to the United Nations. About 300,000 tons of food is expected to arrive at a Jordanian port in a month.

A day after U.S. forces announced the capture of alleged Palestinian terrorist Abu Abbas — believed responsible for the 1985 hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro — Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke would not say where he is being held or by whom. She indicated that there are no plans to move him to the U.S. jail in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Abbas faces a life sentence in Italy for the hijacking. Abbas has apparently been living in Baghdad for at least the last five years, a U.S. official said Wednesday.

His capture shores up Bush administration claims prior to the war there is a link between Saddam Hussein and international terrorism, Brooks said.

"We've said for a long time that Baghdad and Iraq and the regime that no longer exists have harbored terrorists, have provided a safe haven for terrorists, and in some cases have facilitated the operations of terrorists," said Brooks. "I think the arrest of Mr. Abbas makes it very clear that that was true."

On the humanitarian aid front, electric power in Mosul is disrupted. The water is back on in 60 percent of Basra. In Az Zubair, near Basra, 80 percent of the residents have running water.

The water system in Kirkuk is functioning normally. Schools are open in Erbil in the north. In al-Amarah in southeastern Iraq, the local population is "in control of most of the institutions." Schools have not yet opened there.

Medical supplies continue to flow into Iraq, according to the U.S. military. Kuwait is now backing a medical facility in Umm Qasr; a Spanish field hospital and ship-based hospital is in the region; insulin, children's vitamins, and bandages are being moved to the main hospital in As-Samawa; Qatar has sent three pallets of medical supplies and 17 health workers including four doctors to Baghdad; and a medical aid convoy and a Jordanian field hospital are heading to the Baghdad area as well.

Hospitals in Mosul are operating at about 50 percent their pre-war capability, according the United Nations. Baghdad hospitals are improving, but looting has made a serious impact on their ability to provide care, the United Nations said Wednesday.

Humanitarian aid groups report the security situation is improving in Baghdad, but movement in the city is limited by a fuel crunch.

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