- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 25, 2003

BAGHDAD, Iraq, March 25 (UPI) — Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Said al-Sahhaf said Tuesday at least eight U.S. soldiers were killed, 30 military vehicles and tanks destroyed and three Apache helicopters shot down in the latest account of battles in southern Iraq.

Al-Sahhaf also told a press conference in Baghdad that seven Iraqi civilians were killed and 91 others were wounded in the latest U.S.-British airstrikes.

He said the U.S. soldiers were killed in a battle near a bridge that linked Souk al-Shiyoukh with the main highway.

"The heroic combatants of the Arab Baath party confronted a unit of infidels (U.S. soldiers) killing eight, and destroying three personnel carriers," al-Sahhaf said.

He praised the courage of Iraqi fighters, including a woman whom he said destroyed one of the three armored personnel carriers with rocket-propelled grenades.

"Maysoun Hamid Abdullah is a valiant Iraqi lady who confronted the invaders by herself destroying a personnel carrier with a rocket propelled grenade in Souk al-Shiyoukh in southern Iraq," he said.

He said the diehard Iraqi fighters were amazed by the cowardliness of the U.S. troops whom he described as "clowns."

"Iraqi combatants did not imagine that the U.S. troops were cowardly to that extent," he added.

He said Iraqi combatants and tribesmen repelled an attack at a crossroad between al-Nassiriyah and al-Jabayesh, inflicting casualties among the attackers who were forced to retreat.

"They resisted them and killed at least three, but we believe there are more casualties," al-Sahhaf said.

He further said U.S. helicopter gunships also attacked residential quarters in the city of An-Nasiriyah but were confronted by the people and party combatants.

He accused the coalition forces of "using empty bomb tanks filled with nails and metal pieces" that would make "huge exploding sounds, as their strategy is to shock and terrorize" the Iraqi people.

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