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Last Updated:  Friday, 11 April, 2003, 22:45 GMT 23:45 UK
Mosul falls to Kurds
People gather money in the streets of Mosul
Kurdish fighters are said to have broken into Mosul's central bank
Widespread looting has broken out in the main northern Iraqi city of Mosul, after the Iraqi army abandoned the city to US-backed Kurdish fighters.

Television pictures showed people picking up banknotes from the street, and beds, furniture and even a roof-top air-conditioning unit being stripped from buildings and carried away.

A central market was set on fire and pictures of the ousted Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein, were defaced.

Kurdish fighters set up roadblocks, while columns of Iraqi soldiers were seen flooding out of the city. The US military says the entire 5th Corps of the Iraqi army has surrendered.

US special forces are also said to have entered Mosul.

In Baghdad serious disorder is continuing with the BBC's correspondent in the city, Rageh Omaar, saying the Iraqi capital is prey to gangs of armed looters who have raided government buildings, shops, private homes and even hospitals.

The presence of American troops on the streets is doing nothing to deter the armed mobs, and many residents have resorted to barricading themselves in their homes for protection.


The developments in Mosul come a day after Kurdish fighters swept in unopposed to the other main city in the area, oil-rich Kirkuk.

Turkey, which was deeply concerned about the move, now says Kurdish forces have begun withdrawing from the city.

The Turkish Foreign Minister, Abdullah Gul, said the withdrawal had begun on Friday morning and that US forces were now in control of the city.

He said Turkish military observers, whom the US have invited into northern Iraq, would be arriving in Kirkuk shortly.

But the BBC's Dumeetha Luthra says there is little evidence of change on the ground.

Correspondents say American control over Kirkuk and Mosul will open up more avenues from which to attack Tikrit, whose people are bound to Saddam Hussein by tribal ties and are expected to put up fierce resistance.

They add that the town can expect continued heavy air attacks for the next four or five days, while American reinforcements make their way to what could be the last battlefield of the war.

In other developments:

  • The US military issues coalition forces with "playing cards" portraying 55 key individuals from the former Iraqi leadership whom it wants to see captured or confirmed dead

  • Two Iraqi children are killed and nine other civilians are injured after US marines open fire on a vehicle approaching a checkpoint at speed in the southern town of Nasiriya

  • US special forces are involved in heavy fighting with Iraqi forces near the town of Qaim, close to the border with Syria, at a site believed to be a base for surface-to-surface missiles - and possibly weapons of mass destruction

  • The US military says six precision-guided bombs have been dropped on the home of a half-brother of Saddam Hussein, Barzan Ibrahim Hasan al-Tikriti - a former head of the Iraqi secret police - in Ramadi, about 100 kilometres west of Baghdad

  • The leaders of Russia, France and Germany are preparing to hold talks in St Petersburg that are expected to focus on the post-war reconstruction of Iraq

  • Iraq's ambassador to the UN, Mohammed al-Douri, the first Iraqi official to concede defeat to the US-led forces, is due to leave New York.

Meanwhile, US forces in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, say they are taking measures to try to end the serious security problems in the city caused by the looting of hospitals, government buildings, shopping centres and private homes.

They are setting up an operations centre at the Palestine Hotel in the centre of the city, and are calling on professional people to come forward to help run public services.

Sporadic fighting has continued in Baghdad, with Iraqi militia fighters still resisting US forces in the densely-populated western suburbs of the city.

HUMAN COST OF WAR
US: 99 dead (including 26 in non-combat accidents, 5 to 'friendly fire', 2 under investigation), 8 missing
UK: 30 dead (including 16 in non-combat accidents, 5 to 'friendly fire')
Iraq: At least 1252 civilian deaths*, military deaths unknown
*Former regime figures, 3 April

The Kurdish forces in Kirkuk had promised to hand over control to the Americans shortly, following their unexpected advance into the city on Thursday against strong US advice.

The same day saw Washington move quickly to reassure Turkey that the Kurds would not be allowed to control Kirkuk and its oil resources, or to declare an independent state in northern Iraq.

Ankara is concerned that this could inspire separatist demands among its own sizeable Kurdish minority.

After Kirkuk fell, 20,000 Kurdish fighters streamed into the city, waving guns and firing into the air.

The pictures caused consternation in Turkey, and it threatened to send its troops across the border into northern Iraq.

Friday saw the Kurds in the city keeping a very low profile, housed in former Iraqi barracks just outside the city.

Their commander said the forces would return to the two main Kurdish cities of Sulaymaniyah and Irbil once the Americans had taken over.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's John Simpson reports from Mosul
"The Kurds were acting mostly independently of the Americans"



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