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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 9 April, 2003, 09:23 GMT 10:23 UK
Eastern division falls to marines
Andrew North
BBC correspondent at a US marine base in central Iraq

US marines detain Iraqis on the outskirts of al-Amara
The marines used psychological operations to take Iraqi positions
American marines in eastern Iraq say they have taken control of an Iraqi military division headquarters without a fight.

Commanders are hoping it is an indication that Iraqi resistance is crumbling.

Marines encountered only remnants of the estimated 15,000-strong Iraqi 10th Armoured Division when they moved on its positions around the town of Amara, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the Iranian border.

And the city of Diwaniyah is reported to have been handed over to local Iraqis with the help of US special forces.

Melted away

Marine officers say the 10th Armoured Division has not moved from around Amara or played any role in the war since it started.

For some time, the marines have been using psychological operations to try to persuade its soldiers to give up.

It seems to have worked because marines say they have taken control of the divisional headquarters, tanks, ammunition and an airfield without firing a shot.

It appears most of the Iraqi soldiers had already melted away.

The BBC has not been able to see the area for itself, but marines say local residents helped them as they moved on the town, telling them where explosives had been laid on certain bridges and even cutting some of the detonating wires.

In Diwaniyah, about 160 kilometres (100 miles) south of Baghdad, US special forces units say they have helped an indigenous Iraqi force take control of the city of 400,000 people.

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