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  US claims 'rapid' progress in Iraq war
Updated 24 March 2003, 21.57
Warrior tank on the move
The US say coalition soldiers are making "rapid" progress in their attempt to take control of Iraq.

But General Tommy Franks also told reporters troops had faced quite a lot of fighting back from Iraqi soldiers.

He said more soldiers had been lost in heavy battles.

These included two men who were flying a US Apache helicopter which was brought down in Karbala - about 100 kilometres (60 miles) south of Baghdad.


Iraqi TV has shown pictures of men it says are the pilots.

But the US says showing the pictures breaks an important war-law called the Geneva Convention.

It protects prisoners of war from being humiliated or mistreated.

UK officials also said the first British soldier had died in fighting. He was killed in fighting near al-Zubayr, to the south of Iraq's second-biggest city, Basra.

British and US soldiers now think they'll be in the Iraqi capital Baghdad by Tuesday morning. They are said to be at Karbala, south of the city.

But UK Prime Minister Tony Blair warned parliament there were going to be hard days ahead, but the war strategy was going to plan.

Saddam on TV?

Earlier in the day, Saddam Hussein appeared on Iraqi TV saying an Iraqi victory was near.

UK officials say it was definitely a recorded message and didn't prove that Saddam Hussein was alive.

Other main points:

  • Heavy explosions shake the outskirts of Baghdad in the latest air raids
  • US forces bombard important crossroads near the vital town of Nasiriya where there's been fierce fighting for control of two bridges
  • Coalition forces have now taken 3,000 Iraqi soldiers prisoner
  • US experts investigate a possible chemical plant near the town of Najaf
  • Iraq claims 62 civilians have been killed and over 400 wounded in cities in the past 24 hours.


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