- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Latest developments:


— U.S.-led forces massed to the South of Baghdad engaged Iraqi units — thought to be elite Republican Guard — defending the Iraqi capital, despite a howling 30 mph sandstorm.

— British military intelligence said that a popular uprising against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was under way in the Shiite dominated southern town of Basra. Iraqi officials have denied the report.

— Iraqi officials said that a civilian had carried out a suicide attack against coalition forces in the Faw Peninsula in the south of the country. They said that the attack had destroyed a tank behind coalition lines, but gave no further details.

— Iraq's information minister, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, appeared on Iraqi TV to urge Iraqi irregulars — the so-called "Fedayeen" guerillas — to strike the coalition's rear and its extended supply lines.

— Kurdish officials in their enclave in Northern Iraq say their guerillas — the "Peshmerga," or "those who face death" — repulsed an attack by Ansar al-Isalm, an Islamic Kurdish group believed linked to the global terror network of al-Qaida.

— The Pentagon said that 20 U.S. personnel were confirmed killed in action since the fighting began, and two helicopter pilots were confirmed the be prisoners of war. Media reports put the death toll at over 40. The 12 maintenance workers ambushed at the weekend remain listed missing in action, though Iraqi TV showed at least five being interrogated and several dead.

— Australia said its special operations troops were carrying out "shoot and scoot" missions behind enemy lines.


— President Bush sent Congress a request for $74.7 billion additional funding for the current fiscal year to meet the costs of the war, and of the stepped up security at home it necessitated. He asked lawmakers to okay it by April 11.

— The Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said his government had sent a peace proposal to the United States, calling for an immediate end to the hostilities. The White House said it had not received any such message, but would study any suggestions carefully.

— The head of an Iran-backed Shiite group — the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or SCIRI — said the United States must withdraw from Iraq as soon as they have toppled Saddam's regime, or face the military resistance of the Iraqi people.

— British Prime Minister Tony Blair is expected in the United States Wednesday for talks with President Bush and at the United Nations.

— Australian Prime Minister John Howard declined an invitation from President Bush to visit Washington for talks on Iraq, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. said. ABC said Wednesday that Howard believed it best that he remain in Australia at present, but that he might visit the United States later.


— In Baghdad's main port, Umm Qasr, British military officials said the harbor had been cleared of mines, and that — with the city now in allied hands — humanitarian aid should begin flowing within 48 hours.

— The Pentagon announced the names of civilian firms contracted to deal with the seven oil wells burning in Iraq. They include Kellogg, Brown and Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, the company once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney.

— The city of Basra remained without electricity or clean water for the fifth day. The United Nations has warned of an impending humanitarian catastrophe in the city, which is Iraq's second largest.

— The U.N. World Food Program has asked for the largest single cash payment in its history — $1 billion — to pay for food aid for the Iraqi people, of whom 60 percent are completely dependent on food handouts.

— Across the United States, families and neighbors of those believed captured by Iraqi forces have been offering prayers for their safe return.

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