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Last Updated:  Monday, 7 April, 2003, 18:24 GMT 19:24 UK
Irish Guards die in 'major assault'
Lance Corp Malone joined the Irish Guards in 1997
Lance Corp Malone joined the Irish Guards in 1997
Two Irish Guards have been killed during fighting in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.

One of the men was Lance Corporal Ian Malone, 28, from Dublin.

A third soldier also died as UK forces consolidated their hold in the city overnight, after a major assault on Sunday.

Lance Corporal Malone's family said they were devastated by his death, but took some comfort from knowing he died doing the job he loved.

In a statement released by the British embassy in Dublin, they said: "Ian was a wonderful son, full of life and vitality, fun and wit.

"His family and girlfriend are devastated to learn of his death. He had so many friends and so much to live for.

"He loved the Army and lived for the excitement and challenges that being a soldier brought."

Lance Corporal Malone joined the Irish Guards in 1997 and served in the United Kingdom, Poland, Oman, Canada, Kosovo and Germany.

He was also a member of the regimental pipe band.

British commanders in Basra said they made "big gains" in the assault and much of the city was now in their hands.

American tanks and armoured vehicles also launched a ferocious attack in the heart of Baghdad early on Monday morning.

Another of the British casualties to die in Basra was Fusilier Kelan John Turrington, 18, of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.

The other two fatalities will not be named until their families are informed.

STORMING OF BASRA
Basra

British troops, with 95 tanks and 80 Warrior armoured vehicles, are in the south, west and north of Basra, but not in the old city in the centre, which is bounded by a waterway in the east.

Meanwhile, a British Army spokesman in Basra has said that Ali Hassan al-Majid - who has been called 'Chemical Ali' by opponents of the Iraqi regime for ordering a poison gas attack that killed thousands of Kurds - has been found dead.

Major Andrew Jackson of the 3rd Battalion Parachute Regiment told the Associated Press that his superiors had confirmed the death during a briefing earlier in the day.

The army also confirmed that "scores" of vehicles carrying soldiers of 3 Para had begun to progress towards the old city.

Colonel Chris Vernon, said British forces have pushed to the Shatt-al-Arab - the city's main waterway - on two sides, and were also moving towards a presidential palace in the town.

Major General Peter Wall, Britain's deputy commander in the Gulf, said he was cautious about how much control they actually had in the city.

Troops could go "anywhere in a tank", he said. "Of course, that's not by any means the level of security we're after."

He said most of the regular army appeared to have left the city, but there were still some "small pockets" of paramilitary resistance which could well stage counter-attacks in coming days.

"It's been a very good day but I would just caution against excessive optimism," he said. "A relatively small number of determined people in a large city can still give us difficulty."

The old city, which is too narrow for tanks, would be entered by foot "soon", he said.

The BBC's Hilary Andersson, in southern Iraq, said there had been "sporadic resistance" overnight.

There is an enormous amount of looting going on
Lieutenant Colonel Hugh Blackman

"Operations have been carried out by the British forces in a continued effort to try to clear specific buildings and specific areas where they suspect Iraqi military men and Fedayeen are hiding out," she said.

The BBC's Tim Franks, also in southern Iraq, said the troops had advanced with "surprising speed" on Sunday.

But the "crucial day" would be Monday, he said, when the narrow streets and dense population of the city centre meant "the urban warfare that the British and American armies so feared may now be unavoidable."

The massive raid on Basra, after a siege of about two weeks which saw many targeted attacks by UK troops, was staged when there were signs the regime was collapsing, officials said.

Reporters with the troops said their tanks entering Basra were greeted by cheering groups, and said people were honking their horns and giving thumbs-up signs.

Major targets included a naval base, the local Baath party headquarters and the city's College of Literature, which the troops now plan to use as a forward-operating base.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Ben Brown
"The Iraqi death toll here may run into hundreds"


The BBC's Nicholas Witchell
"Three British soldiers have been killed in this operation"


BBC NI's Mary Campbell:
"Lance Corp Malone's family said they were devastated by his death"



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