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  Baghdad defences hit hard by coalition
Updated 31 March 2003, 19.01
US snipers in action close to Baghdad
Baghdad has come under more heavy fire from the coalition forces as fighting gets closer and closer to the city.

US troops have been attacking Iraqi soldiers near the capital, working out how much opposition they will face when they try to take control of Baghdad.

As well as using troops on the ground, bombs and missiles are now being used 24 hours a day to weaken Iraqi defences.

Bridges are very important to coalition forces
Bridges are very important to coalition forces
Most of those bombs and missiles are targeting the best Iraqi soldiers and important government buildings.

Elsewhere coalition forces have enjoyed success in key areas, surrounding the city of Najaf and taking the village Abu al-Qassib, near Basra - in some of the toughest fighting of the war so far.

Aid becoming more important

That puts them just one mile away from Basra, the second biggest city in Iraq.

Some of the troops have stopped fighting and are giving out food and water to the Iraqis, trying to prove that they are there to help them.

Other main points:

  • The US sends 5,000 extra troops to help out at Nasiriya
  • The US claims to have found gas masks and chemical weapons protection equipment
  • UK Defence Secretary says the coalition have taken 8,000 Iraqi prisoners of war
  • Iraqi says their forces killed 43 US and UK soldiers in past 36 hours and destroyed 13 coalition tanks



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