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Last Updated: Friday, 4 July, 2003, 12:47 GMT 13:47 UK
Sombre celebrations for US Iraq troops
4 July 10km race at Baghdad Airport
Dawn broke with news of fresh attacks on US troops
American Independence Day celebrations have been tinged with sadness for US troops in Iraq.

As well as being away from home, the 150,000 troops are having to deal with the loss of another colleague as the resistance attacks against them continue.

There were some distractions to take minds off the sombre side of their mission - including a "burger giveaway", a six-mile (10-kilometre) race, a visit from film star Arnold Schwarzenegger and the chance to blow up some old Russian tanks.

To make up for lack of a traditional firework display, army soldiers destroyed Soviet-made Iraqi tanks with missiles fired from their Bradley fighting vehicles.

Action man Schwarzenegger joined troops at Baghdad International Airport for a screening of his latest movie, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

Barbecue at presidential palace
We should be celebrating with our families. It is sad. Everybody wants to go home
Sergeant Thas Eagans

He addressed a rowdy crowd of soldiers in one of Saddam Hussein's former presidential palaces, now draped with the stars and stripes to mark the occasion.

The actor mixed self-deprecating jokes with praise for hundreds of soldiers who stood on marble floors.

"First of all congratulations for saying hasta la vista (goodbye) baby to Saddam Hussein," he said.

"I play terminator, but you guys are the true terminators," he told the soldiers, before heading to the base at Balad that came under attack on Thursday leaving 18 injured.

Sad thoughts

But some were not so impressed with the former Mr Universe.

"Actually he is a lot smaller than I thought he was going to be. I was picturing Conan the Barbarian. I saw Kindergarten Cop," said Staff Sergeant Dominique Rollins.

Soviet-made Iraqi T-72 tank exploding
Firepower made up for a lack of traditional fireworks

In the north, American forces planned joint celebrations with Iraqi Kurds, who also celebrate 4 July as the anniversary of the naming of their first government in 1992.

But the thoughts of most of the troops were elsewhere.

Sergeant Thas Eagans, from Irving, Texas, said: "We should be celebrating with our families. It is sad.

"Everybody wants to go home. I am glad that we came here to liberate Iraq, but I think it is time for soldiers to see their families."




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