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Last Updated:  Saturday, 5 April, 2003, 14:08 GMT 15:08 UK
Shooting a path to Baghdad
US armour
The footage illustrates the gulf between US and Iraqi firepower

Dramatic footage showing an American armoured column shooting its way into the Iraqi capital has been broadcast by a US news channel.

Troops riding atop Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles fired their heavy machine-guns on any Iraqi vehicle that approached the convoy on its journey along a main road leading to Baghdad's city centre.

The Fox News footage showed many Iraqi vehicles burning by the side of the road as the column moved at speed, passing under signs pointing the way to the city centre.

Most of the Iraqi vehicles appeared to be lightly armoured military vehicles or pick-up trucks, although several destroyed tanks were also shown.

Greg Kelly of Fox News, travelling with the column, reported that civilian vehicles had been waved away from the column by US troops clearly wary of suicide attacks.

Fireball

Those that travelled at speed towards the Americans were quickly dealt with.

In one sequence, an olive-coloured lorry driving near the column was fired on by an American soldier manning a machine-gun mounted on his armoured vehicle.

Now we basically own the main road going into Baghdad
Colonel David Perkins
US 3rd Infantry

Bullet holes appeared in the lorry's windscreen and it rapidly lost speed before stopping.

Another piece of footage showed a white car apparently carrying a gun-toting man coming under heavy fire.

And another showed what appeared to be an Iraqi vehicle exploding behind roadside trees in a massive orange fireball and a mushroom cloud of black, oily smoke.

The footage is a graphic illustration of the massive gulf between American and Iraqi firepower.

Surrender

Further along the road, two unarmed Iraqi soldiers wearing green uniforms were shown appearing out of bushes at the side of the road.

American guns were trained on them but, to cries of "Don't shoot" from the Fox News man, no shots were fired.

Clearly having no appetite for further battle with the American military machine, the two Iraqis put their hands up before lying flat on the tarmac.

Their demeanour was in stark contrast to the apparent calm confidence of the American troops riding in the advancing column.

City 'cut in half'

Colonel David Perkins of the US 3rd Infantry claimed that more than 1,000 Iraqis had been killed during the operation, for the loss of just one American killed and several wounded.

Several US vehicles were damaged, including one Abrams tank that was abandoned.

"We took a portion of the 2nd Brigade and we attacked down Route 8, the main road going into Baghdad, and we attacked all the way through the city and linked up back out at the airport," said Colonel Perkins.

"There was some very intense fighting, with just about every kind of weapons system you can imagine.

"It was a non-stop gauntlet of both heavy systems as well as light infantry on roofs, shooting down on top of tanks with RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) and machine guns, it was a full spectrum of very close urban combat.

"Now we basically own the main road going into Baghdad, so we've cut Baghdad in half, so to speak.

"We've taken out his (Saddam Hussein's) defences, all his prepared organic defences are destroyed, we have destroyed probably in excess of 1,000 dismounted infantry.

"His defences are severely degraded."




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